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20 Fun Career Activities for Elementary Students

career activities for elementary students

October 7, 2022 //  by  Brittney Hallmark

It is never too early to start thinking about career choices, but since we are working with elementary students, let's keep it fun! Let students explore career aspirations and career basics to help students know the broad scope of different careers that exist in the world. Check out these 20 fun career exploration lessons, ideas about careers, and career games for elementary students.

1. Career Day 

If celebrating career day at school, you could have students interview people in different career clusters. Students can talk to people and check out some career articles to help career exploration. Students may need exposure to career biographies if guests aren't available in the career field they are interested in learning more about.

Learn more: Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

2. Career Taboo

This is a fun game to play that will also aid in career exploration for young learners. This is a great introduction or closing activity for a career education unit. Students pick a card and describe the career without using select words. This challenging game is also great for vocabulary building.

Learn more: Ms. Sepp's Counselor Corner

3. Firefighter Craft


A fun craft, this firefighter printable is great for younger students. This is a great addition to career lesson plans or a unit about community workers. This could be part of a lesson or unit that talks about career options.

Learn more: Learn, Create, Love

4. Which Hat Fits You?


This board is a great one to create and display when students begin their career development unit. You can tailor it more towards specific careers. This information may help students veer more toward one career direction after learning about salary, educational requirements, and duties.

Learn more: Lake Washington School District

5. Career Snapshot


Learn more: The Creative Counselor

6. My Future is So Bright 


Career interviews and guest speakers may be a great introduction to your career development and exploration unit. This adorable craft would also be a great addition to this unit! Have students state what they want to be, take their photos, and create this cute, little poster to hang in your room!

Learn more: Fresh-Picked Whimsy

7. Career Exploration 


Interest surveys may help with matching character traits to careers. This career exploration unit resource is great to use in an interactive notebook. It is a great way to document in writing about career exploration for students. This is an activity that may help students express ideas and explore a career direction or two

Learn more: Pinterest

8. Goal Setting with Mentor Texts


Career biographies, nonfiction books, and children's picture books are great resources to use in any unit, but especially in one about career exploration. Choose books that explore everything from agricultural careers to media to healthcare and everything in between. Help students set realistic goals relating to career exploration.

Learn more: The School Counselor Kind

9. Whose Vehicle is This? Drawing Activity


This activity is also a sort of game. Show students a photo or picture of a vehicle and have them draw someone in a career that matches the vehicle. A creative way to allow career exploration, add some nonfiction books that match these careers so students can read more about them.

10. Guest Speakers


Sometimes the best way to get your students to learn about the outside world is by bringing it inside the classroom. Inviting guest speakers to share details of their careers is a great way to encourage career exploration.

Learn more: Planbook

11. Career Scavenger Hunt

Students will enjoy creating a list or ABC book about career exploration. Career ABCs is fun because it can cover a variety of careers and information about them. This is a fun research project that will raise awareness about career options.

Learn more: School Counselor Blog

12. Career QR Code Activity


Learn more: Classroom Tested Resources

13. How Santa Got His Job


This cute picture book is a great tie to a unit about career exploration. You can use it for sequencing for grades pre-k through first. This is a good one to use when discussing job qualifications and the application process of finding a job.

Learn more: Pitner's Potpourri

14. Career Day Writing Activity 


A great read and write activity, this is another great addition to a career readiness unit. Complete with a tiny flipbook at the bottom, this craft is fun and educational. These career exploration printables would also make a nice bulletin board display.

Learn more: We Better Together

15. When I Grow Up 


This one is more for younger students. Pair this drawing and writing activity with some good children's books that explore different careers. If you are looking for a simple career path activity, this one is super easy to print and prepare.

Learn more: Kindergarten Nana

16. Job Shadowing


Job shadowing may be more ideal for older students, but it is a great way to explore career types. Students can explore the uniform, procedures, and duties of different careers. This is a fun way to explore career planning!

17. Build A Tool Center Idea


When studying future career options, students will need to know more about the tools that needed in various careers. These printable cards give students the opportunity to create the tools, using play doh. This is a way to explore exciting careers so students can see more in depth about what occurs within that field.

Learn more: Counselor Keri

18. What Tools Do They Use Matching Game


This is a great game to use for helping to create occupation awareness within children. Easy to print and laminate, students will only need a clothespin or binder clip. This clip game is an easy way to help children learn about the tools people need in various occupational roles.

19. The Magician's Hat Activity 

This book is about helping students choose a career path based on their preferences and interests. You can pair it with an interest survey for students. This career story is also one you can pair with a printable or an online career game as well.

Learn more: Lessons by the Lake

20. Workplace and Career Matching Game 


This fun little matching game is great for creating career awareness. Students will take turns matching the career with the place where they work. This will help students become familiar with different aspects of different careers.

career research project for elementary students

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Career Exploration for Students and Kids (19 Free Resources)

Teach students and kids about careers with these 19 free worksheets and lesson plans. career exploration for students to do..

One of the most important reasons behind a formal education – besides teaching your students how to think for themselves – is to get kids ready to take on an engaging and exciting career.

a group of teen students walking and talking in a meadow, text overlay

And a career? Well, that’s the foundation to any person being able financially provide for themselves – what we call, financial independence.

That’s why I take a real interest in helping kids, tweens, and teens get the best fun career exploration activities resources out there.

So that one day, they can find a fulfilling job and be able to earn enough money to not only survive, but thrive.

Career Exploration for Students

What all is involved in career exploration for students?

To be honest, there’s a lot to cover here.

You want to provide fun and engaging activities for topics like:

  • Understanding Careers : The foundational blocks of understanding how a person earns money, having a job versus working on a career, how to develop your career, etc.
  • Career Interest Assessments : Which careers intersect a child’s natural abilities and a child’s interests?
  • Career Investigation : What does a day look like when holding down a job in one of those career fields that interests a student? What’s the salary like? This can include activities in the classroom, research, and also shadowing.
  • Skill Identification and Development : What skills do they need to pursue a job that interests them? What level of education would they need?
  • Understanding How to Get Hired : Things like interviews, creating a resume, job searches, etc. are critical for students to know how to do.
  • Career Stepping Stones : What steps can the student take right now (and before they graduate high school) in order to set themselves just a few steps closer to getting into that career field (i.e. internships, volunteer activities, writing a first resume (here are free teen resume templates ), type of afterschool/weekend jobs)?
  • Income and Paycheck Management : Discussing how to not only manage a paycheck from a real-job, but also how to manage your career so that your income more than matches current cost of living needs. Also, going over paycheck taxes, pay type (salary, hourly, commissions), insurance, workplace retirement contributions, and other deductions.

Whew – that list wasn’t meant to overwhelm you.

Rather, I wanted to inspire you with what an important and life-changing topic you’re covering with your students and kids.

Plus, to outline some of the areas you can cover with these fun career activities and resources I’ve found for you, below.

Career Exploration for Kids – Free Career Assessments

First up, let’s talk about how to get your kids and students actually interested in career exploration activities.

There’s no better way to pique a student’s interest than to find out what THEY are most interested in learning about.

One way to do this is to start off your unit of study with free career assessments.

1. Truity.com Career Assessment

I spoke with the people at Truity.com, and they said a good age minimum to take their free career assessment is 14/15 years of age.

The test is free to take, plus you get a basic report with results. You don’t even need to have a student register for them to do this!

screenshot of Truity's career assessment test for students

However, if you want to be able to view each of your student’s results, you’d have to sign up for a Pro account.

2. CareerOneStop’s Career Assessment

This free, 30-question career quiz from the U.S. Department of Labor will help a student figure out some possible career choices.

screenshot of Career One Stop's career assessment test for students

3. O*NET Interest Profiler

Another career assessment test sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor is O*NET’s interest profiler. There are 60 questions in total.

screenshot of Onet's career assessment test for students

Psst: want even more career websites for students? Here's 14 career websites for high school students .

4. CommonLit Career Day at Pixie Academy

Age: 4th Grade

Here's a reading passage that's centered around some great career and job terms. The theme of the story is Pixie finding a new job.

Assessment questions and a teacher's guide are included.

Career Exploration Worksheets for Students

While I don’t recommend you center your entire career unit around career exploration worksheets, the ones below can definitely add to students discovering jobs, industries, etc.

1. Find Your “Right Now” Job

Suggested Grades: 6-8

Scholastic has some fantastic worksheets and lesson plans to help with career exploration for students.

In the “ Find Your Right Now Job ” worksheet, students will research jobs and apprenticeships around their area of interests to find two jobs that they could apply to (when they're a bit older).

2. Career Research Worksheet

Here’s a simple, one-page worksheet you can get for free with a free account on Teachers Pay Teachers.

It will help focus your student’s career research.

screenshot of one page career exploration worksheet for students

3. Career Family Tree

This free worksheet of fun career activities has an idea that I love – for students to create a family career tree. They’ll need to ask family members and do the research, which of course is a great way for kids to understand their loved ones even better (plus to learn a thing or two).

4. Classroom Job Application

With a free Teachers Pay Teachers account, get this simple classroom job application your students can fill out to “apply” for classroom jobs.

screenshot of classroom job application worksheet for students

5. Earning Income Career Earning Worksheet

BizWorld has this free, simple worksheet to help your students research a career and salary information.

6. Collection of Career Exploration Worksheets (9-12 grades)

Here’s a bunch of different career activities and worksheets for grades 9-12 .

Worksheets include:

  • Reality Check Worksheet
  • Networking Bingo
  • Speed Interviewing

Career Lesson Plans

Looking for more than just career preparedness worksheets?

Check out these enter career lesson plans, available for free.

Hint: many of them include both worksheets and videos.

1. National Retail Federation's Library

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has a program called RISE Up , a certifying program with curriculum that helps students and young adults get hired in the retail industry.

Check out the RISE Up classroom activities section to find lots of short videos from people actually in the retail industry, answering questions students might have and teaching students about their industry. It also includes a worksheet for each video.

2. PWC’s Earn Your Future Digital Classroom

Check out Level 3 (for Grades 9 – 12), Module Chart Your Course . It talks about:

  • The relationship between education and careers
  • The opportunity cost of pursuing additional education
  • The importance of monetary and nonmonetary compensation when selecting a job

3. BizKid’s It’s a Job to Get a Job

Download an entire lesson plan for high schoolers that include topics like:

  • Job search techniques
  • Interviewing
  • Adding value as an employee

4. NGPF's Career Unit

This is a full-year course, with the following units:

  • Unit Plan & Assessments
  • Career Basics
  • Choosing a Career
  • Workplace Skills
  • Finding a Job
  • Your LinkedIn Profile
  • Resumes & Cover Letters
  • Interviewing for a Job
  • Outcomes of a Job Interview
  • Starting a New Job
  • Career Sucesss

5. Louisiana Department of Education's Virtual Workplace Experience

The state of Louisiana has come up with these free resources to help students explore careers in LA's highest-demand industries. These are project-based learning activities.

Honestly, there's a ton here.

They've broken it down into the following units:

  • General Resources
  • Portfolio Projects Resources
  • Getting Started
  • Healthcare and Pharmacy
  • Automotive Service & Repair
  • Construction Crafts/Skilled Trades
  • Information Technology
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Business Management and Finance
  • Sales and Customer Service

Career Games for Kids

These career games for kids and teens create an engaging way to teach career awareness.

1. Career Charades

Age: 7-9 years

Students are asked to brainstorm lots of different careers (it's suggested that they can ask parents, grandparents, and others to come up with ideas ahead of time).

Each student writes these ideas onto a piece of paper, and everyone takes turns acting out a career while others try to guess what they're doing.

Great for better awareness about career options!

2. Claim Your Future

Students select different career paths, are given a typical salary, and then are given various spending choices. The amount of money they spend throughout the game is tracked so that they can see, and make any adjustments as needed.

screenshot of Claim Your Future career exploration game for teenagers

3. The Payoff

Suggested Age Range: 14 years and older

Practical Money Skills has come up with another free online career game, and this time it's all about two teenagers trying to start up a business in a competitive atmosphere.

Students will have to evaluate business deals, learn how to grow their business, and how to overcome financial challenges in business and in life.

4. Auction Adventures – Auctioneer Career Game for Kids

Suggested Age Range: Grades 3-5

Being paid by commission is wayyyyy different than getting a salary (or, even, being paid hourly). You have to actually sell something to make any money!

This game has your students calculate their commission rates while, at the same time, learning about how auctioneers work in a variety of different places.

Here's a set of worksheets to go along with this game.

screenshot of auction adventures career games for kids

5. The Uber Game

Like it or not, the “gig economy” where people are not full employees of companies, but still accept gigs from them and earn a small or substantial amount of money on the side, seems to be here to stay.

So, kids should understand how this can fit into their career and money plans!

The Uber Game gives your teen a scenario, such as they have a $1,000 mortgage payment due in a week, and then asks them to try and earn enough money through accepting gigs in order to pay that bill.

Can they do it? Is it hard or easy? Can they sustain themselves on a gig job?

screenshot of The Uber online career game for students

Psst: You’ll want to check out my 31 free personal finance homeschool curriculum , as some of the resources also have free career resources.

Career Research for Students

When students research a career, they need to look at it from several different angles before deciding if it’s possibly on their “Career Hitlist”.

Here are the different things to research for a career:

  • Find Income information : Salary, or hourly pay? What’s the range? Do people have this as their only job, or do they need to supplement with a second job to “make ends meet” (i.e. pay all their bills plus save money each month)?
  • Ask People and Watch Interviews : Your student will want to make sure a day in the life of a potential profession is something they’d actually be interested in. Interviewing current employees in a profession, or even watching videos where professionals are interviewed can be really helpful.
  • Find Shadow Opportunities : Students can go shadow a job within your school district, or with a family/friend. Or, they can take part in a Take Your Child to Work day at their parent’s/aunt’s employer. 
Psst: Have you ever heard of CareerVillage ? Students can ask career-related questions and get them answered by professionals, for free! Students of all ages are accepted, and they’ll need to create an account (for free) to ask a question.

1. How to Research a “Day in the Life”

You want your students to feel what it’s like to be on the job in a career path they’re researching.

Help them to do this by:

  • Career Biographies : There are a vast number of what I like to call career biographies that help a child understand what it’s actually like to pursue a certain career field. I’ve got an article on 22 career books for kids , broken down by age and profession type.
  • Career Videos : These can be really helpful, particularly when funds don’t allow for school field trips. MyAmericanFarm.org has a great collection of 3 to 26-minute videos on all different types of agricultural careers . PathSource has an impressive collection of career interview videos. Kids Work! Has a nice collection of ca r eer videos for kids (Grades 3-8). You can also search YouTube for “Day in the Life of _______”.
  • Career Shadowing : Career shadowing was quite cool when I was in high school. Students should be encouraged to shadow someone at their job, whether it’s a parent/family member, or even someone within the school district. Reach out to your principal, vice principal, administrative assistants, and anyone else working at your school district to see if you can set up some job shadowing to go along with your career unit.
  • Career Interviewing : You could have your students brainstorm a list of interview questions for someone in a job they’re curious about, and then actually help them find a person to interview either by email or in person. Imagine what they could learn from the experience!
  • Take Your Child to Work Day : My sister and I both took turns taking the train to Washington D.C. to my aunt’s, and then she would take us into her job at NBC for a “Take Your Child to Work Day”. It was SO neat! It’s really a perfect way to get a taste for what a day in a job looks like (not to mention, motivate a child to want to do better at school so they can get some of the cool positions they get to see). Here's how you can do take your child to work day activities .
  • Career Videos : These can be really helpful, particularly when funds don’t allow for school field trips. MyAmericanFarm.org has a great collection of 3 to 26-minute videos on all different types of agricultural careers . PathSource has an impressive collection of career interview videos. Kids Work! Has a nice collection of ca r eer videos for kids (Grades 3-8).
  • Career Articles : CommonLit has some Day in the Life career articles, such as A Day in the Life of an Astronaut . Also, ReadWorks has some of these articles.

2. How to Research Income Information

While it used to be difficult to figure out income averages for a career or job type, it’s quite simple nowadays thanks to some seriously great, free, resources provided by the Department of Labor.

Here’s a one-stop salary finder , where you enter the occupation and your location to get an idea of the average pay.

It also offers a listing of professions, so students can click around by career cluster (or category) and just explore.

Psst: another important thing to make students aware of through research? Are career projections. In other words, is an industry or job path they want to pursue growing, or are the jobs getting scarcer? Here’s a great resource from Workforce Solutions (for just the Houston-Galveston area, though it still drives the point home about the importance of this question) that shares percentages for various careers.

3. Lessons to Understand Paycheck Taxes and Deductions

EverFI has free financial literacy lessons for kids and students, and Lesson 3 is on income and taxes .

screenshot of EverFi's free career lesson on income and taxes

Students will be given different ideas about careers, as well as the pros and cons to each.

Career Projects for Middle School Students

Looking for a career project your middle school students will enjoy?

1. Middle School Exploratory Tasks

Kentucky's Department of Education has a really cool resource – a group of middle school career projects, broken down by 16 different career clusters (and 80 different career pathways within those clusters).

Not only that, but they have student work samples for each one!

There are projects and exploratory tasks for careers in:

  • Agriculture
  • Human Services
  • … and ten others
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South Lewis Elementary students to develop an interest in planning for the future is an important part of the role of the Elementary Guidance Counselor. Whether college, technical training, or directly entering the workforce is a part of future aspirations, all students need to begin thinking about how they will reach their career goals.

As you learn and grow, you will change your mind many times about what you want to become as an adult. While you are young and have tons of time to decide, consider exploring as many career options as you can! 

This is a great website, like Paws, in that it involves interactive activities that help students to learn more about a variety of careers. This exploration tool includes some fun games for the students to try. Please check it out and have some fun!

LINK: http://www.vaview.vt.edu/k5/play-it/career-town/main.cfm  

2. Kids.gov  

This site offers elementary students a chance to explore a variety of jobs through videos, slideshows, and some light reading. This site is great for learning about jobs you might not normally think about when considering your future career plans. I highly recommend visiting it!! 

LINK: http://www.kids.gov/k_5/k_5_careers.shtml  

3. CareerZone

This is another website that offers an opportunity to explore many different occupations. If you create a log-in, you can keep a profile that allows you to find jobs that are closely related to your skills, abilities, and interests. You can have hours of fun and learning on this site!

LINK: https://www.careerzone.ny.gov/views/careerzone/index.jsf

4. The Fun Works  

This is a website that allows you to explore different types of careers in music, technology, medicine, law, art/design, sports, and even careers related to exploration. There are also links that help you find careers that are based on math and science talents. There is a link on the site that will involve you in some fun games to help you decide which careers you might be interested in. Go wild on this site- there are so many great careers to explore!!

LINK: http://thefunworks.edc.org/SPT--homeflash.php

career research project for elementary students

Career Family Tree

Career interest survey.

K-1 Interest Inventory Worksheet

K-1 Interest Inventory Worksheet

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career research project for elementary students

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Tools and resources for career exploration with elementary students

Lindsay Purchase

With the right supports, career exploration can begin at any age. From videos to workbooks to journalling exercises, these resources can help school counsellors, educators, parents and other caring adults engage elementary school students in career exploration.

Activities, books, programs and tools

All about me – myblueprint.

All About Me grants children from kindergarten to Grade 6 access to a variety of tools that introduce them to the world of work. Journals, media and reflections allow students to showcase their learning on their terms with built-in drawing tools, video/audio recordings, emotions, and a whole lot more.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada – Learning & Career Development

These programs give young people opportunities to strengthen and acquire new skills, test their abilities and enhance career readiness. Programs for children include Discovery Lab, a program that connects science to real-world contexts, and Kid Tech Nation, which teaches children digital skills, coding concepts, internet safety and computational thinking.

Career and College Readiness Counseling in P-12 Schools

This text is written to help school counselors conceptualize the career and college readiness needs of diverse P-12 students and design culturally relevant interventions. The focus is on helping readers to translate theoretical knowledge into practice.

Career curriculums by province and territories (CareerWise)

Career education across Canada varies based on provinces and territories. While curriculums differ in structure, they are all designed to help youth find success. Here is a breakdown of curriculum information for elementary and high school cohorts.

Career Development Elementary: Curriculum Guide (2017) (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

This 100+ page document offers a detailed at building an elementary school curriculum for career development, including activities and assessment tools. It also outlines curriculum outcomes.

Career Exploration in the Middle Grades: A Playbook for Educators (Association for Middle Level Education)

This Playbook – which has a PDF available for free download – aims to provide educators with a roadmap for creating effective career exploration programming. It includes implementation guides, case studies and program sustainability resources.

Career Education Resources (CareerEd)

Resources include a Career Education Guide: (Kindergarten to Grade 7) , Career Education Guide CLE and CLC and Career Education Guide 8-9 .

Careers Are Everywhere! Activity Workbook (Texas Workforce Commission)

This workbook introduces students to the concept of self-knowledge, helping them to explore how their interests and skills connect to a variety of career clusters. It appears to be geared toward elementary students.


CareerGirls.org is a free, video-based career-exploration tool for girls. It has a collection of 10,000 career guidance videos focusing on diverse and accomplished women, including many who work in STEM fields. The website also offers a career quiz and a space to explore career clusters.

This website features numerous collections of paid resources that educators, guidance counsellors and parents can use with students and youth to help them learn about career development. For instance, the “ Career Exploration ” collection includes books, DVDs and a game to guide children through career exploration.

Career Work in Action: Discussions and Activities for Professionals – Youth (CERIC)

This resource aims to help professionals who deliver career supports apply CERIC’s Guiding Principles of Career Development in meaningful ways with youth. Part of a series of six resources – each focused on different demographics – the youth edition offers starter questions, practical interventions and fun exercises to apply.

CAREERinsite: A Guide for Career Counsellors and Educators (Alis)

CAREERinsite is a comprehensive career planning resource. It is intended to help students and clients of almost all ages and backgrounds. While some sections might be better suited to students in high school or above, educators in K-12 might find it to be a useful resource to support career education.

K-12 Career Exploration Lessons (Mississippi Department of Education)

A series of lesson plans for each grade from K-12 to help schools establish a career education program.

LEAP Into Careers! (4-H)

An activity book for facilitators to help students in Grades 3-5 understand careers. It is based on the four-part LEAP curriculum: 1. Youth discover and work with 12 foundational skills; 2. Youth learn about entrepreneurship; 3. Youth delve into the career fields; and 4. Youth design their own Learning Experiences Action Plan (LEAP).

The Early Years: Career Development for Young Children – A Guide for Educators and A Guide for Parents/Guardians (CERIC)

Based on CERIC-funded research conducted by Memorial University’s Dr. Mildred Cahill and Dr. Edith Furey, these guides explore the influence that educators and parents/guardians have on the career development process of children ages 3 to 8. The guides provide practical tips, activities and examples to help children develop a healthy sense of self in the early years and enable them to reach their full potential.

Xello is a digital platform that helps students discover the pathway that’s right for them using an investigative, discovery-based learning process. Students can identify their interests, skills, favourite career clusters, personality style and much more. They can save careers, schools, programs and experiences to form a visual roadmap that’s easy to update and share.

8 interactive activities for career learning with kids and youth (CareerWise)

Career and educational professionals can use apps, virtual and in-class games to introduce younger kids and high school students with career exploration. Here are eight interactive activities that offer an engaging and meaningful experience.

Professional development

Guidance and career education part 1 (university of toronto).

Guidance and Career Education Part 1 is a foundational course, designed for both the classroom teacher and for the educator who is interested in pursuing a Guidance role in their school board. It is available as an online course.

Micro-credential Series for Career Educators (Life Strategies)

In fall 2023, Life Strategies will also be offering a series of courses that aim to equip educators with knowledge and skills to support students in their career development process:

  • Fundamentals of Career Development
  • Career Development and Mental Health Connections
  • Teaching Career Curricula in Canadian Schools

Careering magazine

  • Applying universal design as a pathway to inclusive career education – by Tricia Berry
  • Career development will help equip children to take on climate change – by Stefania Maggi
  • Community connections foster k–12 career exploration – by Heather McIntyre and Sean Jones
  • Current approaches to career education risk impeding students’ exploration – by Josslyn Gabriel
  • K-12 career readiness needs to go beyond the vision of school leaders – by Maria Vitoratos
  • Making career development ‘stick’ in K-12 – by Adriano Magnifico
  • Principles in Action: Elementary career education equips students to navigate complex world of work – by Ed Hidalgo
  • We need to start early: Fostering a career mindset in young people – by Lucy Sattler
  • ‘ When I grow up’: How an outdated career question cultivates unhelpful mindsets – by Fanie Zis
  • Bringing teachers into the career conversation – by Lucy Sattler
  • Career education needs to start earlier than you think – by Jena Tarabad
  • Career options and aspirations: A K-12 education approach – by Allisson Badger
  • Connecting educators to industry to improve youth career literacy – by Megan Piercey Monafu
  • Ed Hidalgo: ‘Every child should know there’s a place in the world for them’ – by Ed Hidalgo
  • How to get girls interested in entrepreneurship – by Katharine Cornfield
  • Relationships the key to creating a school career development model – by Ed Hidalgo
  • Resources to support career literacy conversations – by Lindsay Purchase
  • 5 podcasts to help kids start learning about careers – by Lindsay Purchase
  • 5 resources to help parents support their children’s career development – by Lindsay Purchase
  • 5 ways to talk with young children about work and careers – by Kimberly A.S. Howard and Stephanie M. Dinius

Additional reading

  • ‘Academic Career Plans’ Have Students Exploring Careers as Early as Kindergarten (The74)
  • A Process for Guiding Middle School Students Through Career Exploration (NCDA)
  • Bringing All Students Inside the Circle: DEI and Career Development in K-12 Schools (NCDA)
  • Bringing Careers into the Curriculum (CDAA)
  • Career and life planning in schools (People for Education)
  • Career education in Alberta : Career Education Task Force – Final report (Government of Alberta)
  • Career Education in Primary School (CDAA)
  • Can Minecraft really help you build a career? (BBC)
  • Career ambitions ‘already limited by age of seven’ (BBC)
  • Career exploration curriculum for elementary school-age kids (Michigan State University)
  • Career Exploration for Elementary Students: Considering it for your Classroom? (Xello)
  • Collaboration between Teachers and Career Specialists in Middle School (NCDA)
  • Early in the Story: Career Curriculum in Elementary Schools (NCDA)
  • How can we foster lifelong learning attitudes in students? (OECD)
  • Starting early – the importance of career-related learning in primary school (Education and Employers)
  • Supporting Early Career Development of Transgender and Gender Expansive Children in Elementary School (NCDA)
  • The World Of Work – In Elementary School (Forbes)
  • Why Career Exploration Matters for Middle School Students (NCDA)

Note that some of the following may require a log-in or request for access to download.

Career Development in Children: Identifying Critical Success Conditions and Strategies (CERIC)

This-CERIC funded research project is being undertaken by an international project team lead by Dr. Lorraine Godden (Ironwood Consulting and Carleton University). It aims to shed light on how foundational concepts and skills, introduced and developed by classroom teachers, intersect with career development and manifest into career-related learning in Canadian elementary schools. The project is in progress and has produced three reports to date:

  • Supporting Career Development in Children: A Literature Review
  • Supporting Career Development in Children: Curriculum and Policy Review
  • Supporting Career Development in Children: A Review of Business and Industry Partnerships

CERIC literature searches

  • Early intervention career development for children and adolescents : Topics explored include career exploration, family and parental influence, school/guidance counsellors, and race and gender.
  • Parental involvement in career development : Topics explored include gender stereotyping, self-employed parents and adolescent personality development.
  • Infusing career development into K-12 curriculum : Topics explored include career exploration and guidance for elementary students, parental involvement in student career planning, benefits of career counselling programs for students and K-12 career competency building and implications.

Social-emotional learning and career development in elementary settings (British Journal of Guidance and Counselling)

A holistic approach to youth development suggests that, given the interconnected nature of development in the domains of career development and social-emotional-learning (SEL), children and youth are better supported when education in both domains is provided in an integrated way. This paper integrates a model of SEL with models of childhood career development competencies and career-related reasoning.

What works? Career-related learning in primary schools (Education and Employers Research and The Careers & Enterprise Company)

This paper provides evidence of the benefits of career-related learning (CRL) for children in primary school, as well as on the effects of CRL on primary-aged children’s decisions, aspirations and attitudes. It maps key actions being taken by primary schools to support children’s transitions to secondary school and beyond.

Did we miss something? Leave a comment below or send us a note at [email protected] if you have information that can help make our article even better.

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Career Exploration | Career Readiness | Middle School

5 Best Career Exploration Projects for Middle School

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July 14th, 2022 | 7 min. read

5 Best Career Exploration Projects for Middle School

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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Middle school is an important but uncertain time for students to think about their interests and abilities and begin to contemplate their future occupations. As a teacher, you strive to turn that uncertainty into excitement. One of the best ways to do so is to use engaging projects that guide and inspire your students to discover the diverse career opportunities available to them.

When looking for career exploration resources, teachers often ask about our career readiness curriculum . Thousands of middle school teachers use Business&ITCenter21 every year as a core curriculum to teach career readiness skills and concepts. 

However, if you’re only looking for supplemental career exploration projects and activities, Business&ITCenter21 might not be the right fit for you.

In this article, we’ll look at five career exploration activities to help you find the best exercises for your students. For each activity, we'll discuss four elements of the project:

  • An overview of the provider and project
  • What materials are included
  • Who it’s a good fit for

After reading this post, you’ll better understand what types of career exploration projects are available and which could be the right fit for stimulating your students to dream about their future jobs.

Project 1: Career Exploration and Research Project from 2 Peas and a Dog, Teachers Pay Teachers

Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) allows instructors to share and sell classroom activities and worksheets with their colleagues, often for modest prices. 

This career exploration and research project for distance learning by 2 Peas and a Dog is adaptable for any subject area and includes resources to help students develop reading, writing, and speaking skills.

You can encourage learners to take a web-based career assessment before researching potential career choices. The project culminates in students creating posters and giving oral presentations on a career of interest.

What is included?

  • 23 pages of content
  • Teacher instructions
  • Assignment sheet and rubrics
  • 6 graphic organizers

In addition, the project includes Google Slides for schools that use Google Classroom applications.

What is the cost?

This project is available as a single classroom license for $3.00. It can also be accessed on an institutional subscription basis using Teachers Pay Teachers’ TpT School Access service.

Who is it a good fit for?

This project is geared toward learners in grades 7-9, but teachers often use it with students in grades 7-8. It is designed to fill one to two weeks of class periods but can be extended and used over one to two months. It is a good fit for teachers looking for easy integration with Google Classroom or alignment with specific educational standards listed on the project page.

Project 2: Career Exploration Project from The Classroom Sparrow, Teachers Pay Teachers

This adaptable career exploration project from The Classroom Sparrow is also available from Teachers Pay Teachers. Although teachers most often use this project with seventh-grade students, you can adapt the activity for students at various grade levels.

The project encourages learners to look at potential careers within different disciplines, such as education, law, healthcare, agriculture, and technology. Teachers can also use it in conjunction with other resources in The Classroom Sparrow’s career readiness bundle.

  • 16 pages of content
  • Resume template

This project is available as an individual license for $6.50 or as part of a bundle. The Career Readiness Resources Bundle contains 17 different career and business exercises for $59.99. Since it is available from Teachers Pay Teachers, it is also accessible through a school-funded subscription.

The Classroom Sparrow’s project is a good fit for students in grades 5-12. If you plan to discuss career concepts such as job applications, references, resumes, and cover letters in addition to introductory career exploration, you would benefit from using this project.

Project 3: Career Research Project from The Green Light, Teachers Pay Teachers

Looking for a way to encourage creativity and display student work in your classroom? For this career project from The Green Light , learners will develop research and writing skills while identifying a career of interest.

Students will first use a research guide to discern a possible career. Then, using pieces of poster board paper, students will write about and illustrate their occupations of choice by designing posters to look like giant business cards. 

The project invites students to learn and share about different careers and encourages them to be imaginative in designing their posters. You can use the business card posters for presentations or create a display in your classroom or hallway.

  • 4 pages of content
  • Assignment sheet and rubric
  • Research guide
  • Sample student work

This career research project is available from Teachers Pay Teachers for $2.00 and is accessible via a school-funded subscription through TpT School Access. The Green Light also offers these materials as part of a bundle for $6.50. The other resources in the bundle concern the college application process and are primarily oriented toward high school students.

This activity is adaptable for different grade levels, and teachers can use it with middle and high school students in grades 6-12. Because it includes research and writing components, it is a good fit for career exploration or writing classes.

Project 4: Career Exploration: Mapping Your Life Path, Money Instructor

Money Instructor offers learning resources that coincide with financial skills, including saving, investing, and basic money management. In addition, the website provides information about business and careers.

The Mapping Your Life Path activity helps students understand and pursue a balanced lifestyle between their future careers and personal lives and build fundamental skills that will allow them to thrive in the future.

Students will look for personal strengths and weaknesses to develop a vision for a personally and professionally fulfilling life. The lesson plans also include an art activity in which students create a collage of pictures of elements of their future lives and careers.

  • Lesson instructions directly on Money Instructor’s website
  • Printable life path lesson
  • Student worksheets
  • Collage instructions and materials list

Money Instructor includes the overview plans for the Mapping Your Life activity (including the related art activity) on their website free of charge.

To download the lesson plan and student worksheets, teachers need to register for an account with Money Instructor. Registrants can choose between a limited membership with access to select materials or a full membership with access to all of Money Instructor’s materials. A full membership for educators costs $29.95 per year.

If you’re looking for a lesson that is free and easy to implement, this career exploration project from Money Instructor could be a good choice. Although Money Instructor recommends the material for high school students, middle schoolers would understand and benefit from the project, particularly the career collage art activity.

Project 5: College and Career Connections

College and Career Connections is an independent website that aims to orient students to the 16 different career clusters while helping learners find careers that fit their interests and abilities. A team of business teachers from Ohio designed the website, which includes teaching materials used directly in their classrooms.

College and Career Connections takes students through an entire course on career exploration, beginning with information on career clusters and links to several career and personality assessments. The remaining units continue to introduce students to career opportunities in a variety of fields, as well as the education necessary to achieve their goals.

  • Course syllabus
  • Career portfolio slide template for student projects
  • 6 units of course material
  • Videos, projects, career assessments, and worksheets for each unit

The complete College and Career Connections course materials are freely available on the website. Since teachers designed the course for a specific institution, teachers may need to adapt the curriculum to meet the needs and standards of their school.

If you want to adapt all or part of an existing course for their career readiness program can turn to College and Career Connections for free and readily adjustable course materials. Because of the number of activities available on the site, you can choose which activities are appropriate for your grade level and time constraints.


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