Money Prodigy

Career Exploration for Students and Kids (19 Free Resources)

By: Author Amanda L. Grossman

Posted on Last updated: December 29, 2023

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. Career Assessment

I spoke with the people at, 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. 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. 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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20 Fun 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

career research project for elementary students

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

career research project for elementary students

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.

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Career Exploration for Elementary Students – 7 Activities for Kids

Search for worksheets.

It’s never too early to encourage a little career exploration in your students.

After all, you’re not going to hold them accountable to what they say now — are you? Today, they might want to be doctors, lawyers, and musicians. Tomorrow: Olympic athletes and astronauts. That’s all part of the fun!

For kids, career exploration is a fundamental part of development. It can really help them to look forward to, and prepare for, what the future holds.

Whether they realize it or not, kids are constantly looking to their adult role models for guidance on how to act and what they should do in the future. How often do you hear young ones ask each other, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

By getting your kid(s) exploring career options through certain focused activities, you’re equipping them with the knowledge that there are so many different paths out there for them, and the world really is their oyster.

So, what are career activities?

Career activities are fun ways to introduce your kid(s) or students to the endless possibilities out there in the world of work.

In elementary school, students usually have a fairly narrow view of employment. They may know (roughly) what their parents do, but there will still be so much for them to learn. As parents and teachers, it’s your job to help them explore their interests, natural skillsets, and true passions — and that’s where career exploration activities come in.

But before we go into those…

Why are career activities important for kids?

Career games are beneficial for elementary students in a whole host of ways:

Broaden kids’ minds

In a modern, digital-first society, there really are very few limits when it comes to job seeking. Career games are a great way for kids to discover how everyone in society can play a different role.

Inspire kids to achieve more

By increasing your kid or student’s awareness of the different jobs out there, they can start to really see where they can fit in — inspiring them to find a job that truly fits them, their personality, and their passions.

Encourage goal-setting from a young age

Once kids have found their “dream job”, they can start making a plan and taking the right steps towards getting there — even if they change their mind a week later!

7 career activities and games for elementary-age kids

Now, let’s delve into some of the best career activities out there for 6-11-year-olds:

Career Days

On Career Days, guests come to school (or homeschool!) to talk about their line of work. And when it comes to career types, the more diverse, the better!

These events allow children to interact with adults and ask questions in a comfortable and safe environment, while guests get to share stories and inspire the next generation.

Field Trips

What better way to engage young minds than to take them out of their usual, classroom environment?

Scheduling a field trip to a place of work can be such an eye-opener for kids and pre-teens, as it allows them to glimpse behind the scenes of whichever workplace you’ve chosen for that day.

Some particular favorites are fire stations, museums, restaurants, and TV studios.

Career “ABC”

Get your kid(s) or students to pick an occupation for each letter of the alphabet, and think about what skills these jobs would need. Once they’ve done this, they can go one step further and discuss why these skills are important for that particular job.

This activity is super easy yet educational and works well in the classroom for a larger group of students.

Job Posters

Paper and pens at the ready! In this activity, kids flex their creative skills and draw up a poster describing the ins-and-outs of a certain job or career.

To do this, we suggest writing down a wide list of different jobs and getting your kid(s) or students to pick the one that sounds the most interesting to them. That way, they can stay truly engaged and make it meaningful for them.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, why not have a look at our selection of worksheets on famous people ? From writers to athletes , to inventors , and explorers , there’s plenty of resources for you to get your kid(s) or students inspired!

Career Paths

Get your kid(s) and students making active goals towards their dream jobs with this career path activity. The aim of the game is to help kids and pre-teens to understand what they need to do to make their dreams a reality.

You can visualize it as a ladder — with each step leading to the next stage — or as a more free-form diagram. At this stage, don’t worry so much about feasibility or accuracy; we’re really just trying to get kids to think about what the future could hold.

Career Camps

The variety of summer camps out there is amazing, and there are so many options to choose from, in fields like cooking, journalism, science, fitness, engineering, and more.

Enrichment programs are a great way to get your kids really immersed in a particular field, gaining valuable hands-on experience, as well as making memories and friendships that last a lifetime.


This one’s ideal for older elementary kids, and it’s something they can carry with them through their teen years. Volunteering exposes students to valuable experiences, while supporting their local community, too. If your pre-teen has dreams of becoming a teacher, why not set them up with a few hour’s work each week as a personal tutor? Similarly, if they see themselves working in medicine, can you go together to a local blood bank — handing out flyers, or meeting and greeting guests?

Volunteering is also a great way to boost a teen’s resume so that when the time comes to actually start their career, they’re more than equipped.

Sow the seeds now, and watch your child bloom!

Even if your kid(s) or students grow up to do something totally different to what they have in mind today, you can rest assured that this career support, early in life, has given them the confidence to strive for what they want — and achieve it!

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Career Exploration for Elementary Students: Considering it for your Classroom?

How early should students start planning their futures consider spending some time on career exploration for elementary students..

As someone who has taught college, high school, and elementary, nothing really shocks me anymore. I like to think that I have seen it all by now. However, it still does surprise me when high school and college students admittedly state they have no idea what they want to do for a career. This inevitably leads to them choosing classes or jumping into careers with no strategy (or passion) behind it. Still, as educators, this is something that falls on us, too. There are things we can do to ensure each student has at least an idea about the career they want to pursue. A 2012 Gallup Student Poll showed that 8 in 10 elementary students are actively engaged in school. By middle school, only 6 in 10 students are engaged. Further, in high school, a mere 4 out of 10 students are actively engaged. But there’s something we can do about this: Start earlier. If we help our elementary students construct a plan and set goals for their future from the elementary school years, we can only keep them more engaged. After all, engaged students from K–12 are 4.5 times more likely to be confident about their futures compared to those who are not.

Traditionally, Career Discussion Starts Early but Not seriously

All of us ask children what they want to be when they grow up. As we half listen, we smile, say that’s good and then seldom give it another thought. In any case, we should consider their response to the question much more than we do. Perhaps they already have a very basic idea about what field they would flourish in, even if they don’t know exactly the role they will hold. Children in the primary grades are actually pretty observant. In fact, this is when many of their likes and dislikes are formed. Think about it: I became a New York Mets fan around this age, while my whole family loved the Chicago Cubs, and I still am decades later (even through the very bad years). I also developed inordinate hate for chicken nuggets and I still refuse to touch one. These years are some of our most formative. So why are we wasting an opportunity as educators to help these students develop their path at this age to the career they want later on as an adult? Their love for a certain career can grow throughout the years as long as we are helping to make it blossom. It is an opportunity wasted. We are big on emphasizing teachable moments in the classroom that come about unexpectedly. Yet, we are not following up on introducing children to certain career paths when the opportunity presents itself.

Tip: Take Career Exploration for Elementary Students One Step Further

Instead of moving on to the next child after you ask a kid what they want to do later on in life, take it a step further. Ask a follow-up question that will make them start thinking. Ask how they expect to get there. Of course, this will probably take them by surprise. Most young children don’t know the steps they have to take to get to that job they want to have. They’re unaware of the subject areas they must develop a love for. If you introduce them to actions they must take in the future to help them reach the possibility of achieving their aspiration, they will have a much better chance at success.

Wait… Is Elementary Really the Time for Career Exploration?

There is no better time than now to get elementary students thinking about their future. In addition to day-to-day learning, focusing on career exploration will give them something to get excited about throughout their years in school. We just have to find the perfect way to keep them engaged and in the driver’s seat of their future.

Bring Career Exploration into the Classroom: Where to Start

There are always a couple of ways to tackle a problem. Of course, we could go the traditional route and ask parents and professionals to talk about how they pursued the career they are in. However, a more innovative way to spark career curiosity is through a self-driven, future-readiness solution that allows all students to move at their own pace and be actively in control each step of the way. Make career exploration for your elementary students an active part of your classroom. There are even online programs available to districts and schools across the country. The programs differ a bit based on age level, but with young learners in elementary, career awareness can be created through fun learning activities and play. With programs like these, elementary students are invited to make self-discoveries as they identify their interests, individual achievements, and examine how it may guide them in life. They can take their likes and dislikes and figure out which type of industry they would most enjoy working in.

Go Beyond the Technical skills: Paving a Path for Self-Discovery

Taking an interest in their academics is great, but elementary students also need to evolve and mature to develop their social-emotional skills—skills that especially need attention in the 21st century. With a dedicated college, career, and future readiness program , it empowers students to go beyond the books and develop the professional skills to help them shine in the future. Students will develop skills such as self-awareness, resiliency, self-management, and even empathy. These are all abilities they need to acquire to become successful in their careers and in life.

Right now as educators, we’re all probably thinking about how we wished something like this was available back in the day as elementary students. It could have been a game-changer. In fact, some of us may have pursued a totally different career path than the one we happened to stumble upon when choosing our major in college at the last moment. It’s like Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Let’s do our best to keep our students from failing by introducing a career exploration program that will keep everyone on task through their school years.

Ryan Crawley

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career research project for elementary students

Go back to previous editions of CareerWise Weekly.


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 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.

The Sprinkle Topped Teacher

Research Project Template For Elementary Students

Research Project Template For Elementary Students

Hey teachers! Are you searching for one easy resource that keeps on giving, all year long? My Research Project Template for Elementary Students is perfect for you!

We all know that research skills are super important for students to have, but some of you may be wondering how best to fit research into a younger student’s curriculum. Typically when you think of research, you think of long hours in a college library and tons of citations. Well, it’s easier than you might think!

Seriously, you can do a simple research problem on pretty much anything. I’m talking bugs, states, countries, plants… you name it. And since younger kids are naturally super curious, they always get excited to embark on the quest to find out more about the things they like — and learning about completely new things, too!

Worksheet with "all about" so students can fill in for research

It’s key for students to start to get some research experience while they are in elementary school because this will build their ability to question the world around them while they are young. It also helps them develop note taking skills and write out their ideas and observations, both of which are essential parts of good communication and good classroom habits. They will take these skills with them for the rest of their lives, so it’s never too early to start!

Here’s the good news: research projects for elementary students don’t have to get fancy at all. In fact, my Research Project Template is both incredibly simple for you to prep, and comprehensive on the students’ side of things. Plus, you can use it again and again all year round because it’s totally editable. Yay for reusable resources!

Blank Research Project Template For Elementary Students

How does this Research Project Template for Elementary Students work?

It doesn’t get much easier for you and your students than this research project flip flap! All you have to do is print it for your students and you’re ready to roll. As easy as the prep is for you, students still get the opportunity to cut, color, and write about any research topic they’re assigned or that sparks their curiosity.

The research project template is a Powerpoint file, and complete instructions are included for you. This way, you can easily edit the text to suit your classroom’s needs!

Blank Research Project Template For Elementary Students on kid's desk

Students will pick a topic that interests them, or you can assign a topic based on any unit your class is currently studying. Then, according to the topic, students will record their observations and more, including…

●       3 Interesting Facts

●       Vocabulary word with pictures

●       Illustrate what you learned

●       Create a poem

●       Can, Have, Are activity

The combination of writing, observations, and illustrations make this a comprehensive activity that covers ELA skills, STEM skills, and creative expression. And since it is customizable in the Powerpoint document, you can choose which sections to use and leave some out if they don’t best suit your lesson.

"create a poem" worksheet to go along with research project template for kids

How can I use this Research Project Template in the classroom?

My favorite part about this research project template for elementary students is that you can reuse it in the classroom all school year long! Since it is a generic template and completely editable, it can easily fit with any kind of research project or activity you have in mind, from geography, to science, to art, and more.

Students can even pick their own topic they would like to research and complete their own mini project themselves! This option is great for centers. Flip flaps are amazing for centers because once students observe how to complete the flip flap once or twice, they can easily do it on their own in groups. You can assign a topic for the group to research or let students go their own way and work independently.

They can keep their research projects in their folders all year long if it’s important stuff to know, or they can bring them home and proudly show them off to their families. If you’d like, you could even have a research day where students present their findings to their classmates at the end of the day!

Blank Research Project Template For Elementary Students

Download the No-Prep Research Template:

Click here to download a copy for your students.

This Research Project Template for younger students is totally worth returning to all year round! It’s super simple to prep, easy to edit, and can be used for any topic that you or your students want to cover. They will be able to practice their questioning, observational, note taking, and written communication skills, while everything stays low prep on your end. Have fun researching with your class, and enjoy!

What kinds of research do you like to do in your class? Do you plan on using this research project template? I’d love to hear from you all!

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You may also like, how to create and assignment in google classroom, distance learning resources you don’t want to miss, new years activities for kids 2021, student teacher mentor pack, growth mindset activity – craft and writing.

career research project for elementary students

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Career Exploration For Your Elementary Students – What, Why, And How?

career research project for elementary students

When you entered college, did you know what career you wanted to work toward, or did it take a while to find your passion? In a 2022 survey by , 29% of respondents reported working in a different field from their field of study. Whether this is due to the changing job market or changing minds, career exploration is one way to help curb this problem. And why not start as early as possible?! Career exploration for elementary students is the perfect way to put them on the right path at the beginning of their academic careers. 

Career exploration is the process of discovering, evaluating, and learning about modern career paths and how students can pursue the careers of their choice. But it's more than that. Elementary school career exploration should spark curiosity, showcase career opportunities, and foster self-awareness. It should help students learn more about themselves, so they can make informed decisions about what kind of job would be fulfilling and aligned with their unique skills. 

Kai XR believes effective career exploration should begin early as a digital learning platform. We help students engage with potential careers and build relevant skills through immersive virtual field trips and makerspace classrooms . 

In this article, we'll discuss the following: 

  • Why career exploration is important
  • How to integrate career exploration into your elementary classroom

Let's start exploring! 

Why Career Exploration for Elementary Students is Important 

With the ever-changing job market, it is more important than ever to understand career paths and what they entail. The importance of this is especially true for elementary students because they have a lot to consider when it comes to their future careers.

Career exploration is an integral part of a child's education. It can help children by allowing them to discover their strengths and weaknesses, as well as what they enjoy doing outside of school time. Students who are taught how to explore their interests, skills, and values will be better prepared for future career decisions. In addition, when students have the opportunity to explore careers, they gain valuable information about themselves and what it takes to be successful in different fields of work.

It helps them to understand what they enjoy, what they are good at, and what they are not. Elementary school teaches children basic math, reading, and writing skills. Career exploration can contextualize these skills to make them feel more valuable. 

Introducing career exploration to children in elementary school offers several benefits for them, their families, and society. 

In elementary school, kids have begun identifying their areas of interest, talents, and dreams. This is the perfect time to discuss what a career is and how it relates to all of this. They can learn about the different aspects of a job and begin to choose which one they want to pursue. Each element can be broken down into smaller details so that kids can better understand what they want to do when they grow up (and possibly create a successful career).

There are many reasons why career exploration should begin in elementary school, but for this blog, we'll focus on two: 

  • Self-concept starts in elementary school
  • Career exploration builds a foundation for skills development 

Self-Concept Begins in Elementary School

While it may feel like teaching a third grader how to plan out their future career is premature, research shows that awareness and aspirations for a career path can start as early as 9-10 years of age. In addition, students can describe what they like and dislike as early as age 5, and they begin to understand and discuss stereotypes associated with certain jobs by the 5th grade. 

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) provides guidelines for elementary school students with three areas of focus:

  • Self-knowledge
  • Education and occupational exploration
  • Career planning 

Self-concept, or self-knowledge, requires understanding one's own behaviors, abilities, and unique characteristics. If a young person doesn't have a developed concept of themselves, they can struggle in picking what direction they want their life to go. Essentially, it is going through the process of figuring out what you like and don't like, categorizing those likes and dislikes, and prioritizing them within your own scope to define yourself personally. In essence, asking themselves, "who am I?".

When students think about their future careers, they need to start by reflecting on the things they like and dislike doing. They must also consider what makes them happy or sad when doing certain tasks or activities.

Once students have established a strong sense of self, they can be more engaged in education and occupation exploration, career planning, and skills development. By understanding their options and the skills needed to succeed in those roles, they can focus their learning on developing those skills. 

It Builds a Foundation for Skills Development

For many students, elementary school is a time of exploration and discovery. It's also when you develop your interests, hobbies, and skills that will stay with you throughout your life.

Career development builds a foundation for skills development, which is the second piece of the puzzle. Students need to know what skills are required for specific jobs and how to acquire those skills. It is important to explore careers with students at this age level because they will be able to remember this information and use it as a reference throughout their lives.

When students are young, they tend to have very concrete ideas about what they want to do when they grow up. As they get older, their interests become more defined and specific. They also understand that school is not just about getting good grades. It also prepares them for the real world and helps them find their place in it.

Skills development is one of the essential parts of modern education. In the past, most schools have focused on teaching students how to read, write and calculate. However, as educators become more aware of the changing world around them, they realize that it's also important for students to learn about careers. This helps students understand what jobs exist and what skills they need to succeed at those jobs.

Three frameworks are incorporated into modern classrooms: 

  • Social-emotional learning activities - Skills that foster emotional regulation, communication, and responsible decision-making
  • 21st-century learning skills - Skills such as leadership, innovation, and collaboration that help students succeed in a 21st-century workplace
  • CTE skills - Soft and technical skills that can be applied to specific jobs 

Let's look at an example to illustrate how they all work together. 

If a student wants to be an architect when they grow up, there are specific skills within these frameworks they will need to master. For example, they will need to use social and emotional skills to understand how to build relationships with engineers who can design the buildings and contractors who will build them. They will also need to consider how their project may impact the surrounding community positively or negatively. Again, this ties directly to social-emotional skills, which begin developing in preschool and kindergarten. 

When it comes to leveraging their 21st-century skills, an architect would need to learn how to collaborate with their engineers and contractors to produce the best possible structure. They may also need to leverage their innovation skills to solve complex problems in the design process. 

Finally, they will need to leverage their understanding of mathematics and physics to ensure the building plans will stand the test of time. 

And while it may seem far-fetched, all of these skills can be built during elementary school! 

Integrating Elementary Career Exploration

If you want your students to be prepared for the world beyond school, you need to give them opportunities to explore what they want in the future. Career exploration can be integrated into any class and is a great way for elementary students to learn about themselves and the world around them.

If elementary career exploration is a new concept to you, you may be wondering how to integrate it into your classroom best. We've simplified the process into four recommendations: 

  • Create opportunities for exposure
  • Model curiosity
  • Talk about the process
  • Use the power of play

Make sure that all students have access to the same information. You don't want to give one group of students more information than others. Instead, you should provide opportunities for all students to access the same resources so they can make informed decisions about their futures.

Educators should also give students multiple opportunities to explore careers and interests. Students will have different interests at different times during their lives, so it's important that they have multiple chances to explore different careers or educational paths before making decisions about what they want.

Create Opportunities for Exposure

Many of us have had teachers who encouraged us to think about our futures. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was a question we often heard as children.

A child may be able to identify what they are interested in doing, but they need to know more about it. This is where educators can support career development by creating opportunities for exposure.

Teachers can provide opportunities for exposure in a variety of ways, including: 

  • Field trips
  • Community involvement
  • Access to resources like books and articles
  • Role-playing or job simulations
  • Hands-on lessons 

Let's dig into the details of these techniques! 

While career exploration can take many forms, one of the most effective ways is through field trips. Students visit companies and organizations that offer different types of jobs, from accounting firms to hospitals, from retail stores to restaurants. This allows them to understand better what each job entails and whether or not it is something they would like to pursue as an adult.

One of the challenges of relying on school field trips as a form of career exploration is that many schools face limited budgets, and planning takes a lot of time and coordination for the teacher. However, with virtual field trips , you can get the best of both worlds! You gain access to job roles from across the globe, and lessons become more engaging with better outcomes. 

A few of the most significant benefits of virtual field trips for career exploration are: 

  • Virtual field trips make a more engaging learning experience to help students understand concepts more thoroughly.
  • Virtual field trips are more accessible and can give students access to experiences they would otherwise not be able to have.
  • Virtual reality provides opportunities for students to build digital literacy skills. 

Kai XR partners with programs and schools to provide over 100 engaging, fully immersive VR field trips that help students explore the world, discover new careers, and hear from professionals.

Teachers can also expose students to different possibilities by getting their students involved with community organizations and introducing them to professionals in their field of interest. For example, if students want to be artists, they can visit an art museum or take drawing lessons at a local art center. If a student wants to be a chef, they can learn how to cook from someone who already has experience in the kitchen or volunteer at a local soup kitchen. 

Students should also have access to books, articles, and other resources to help them understand what jobs are available in different careers. For example, suppose a student knows that they want to be an engineer but doesn't know what engineers do daily. In that case, they should be able to go online and read about careers in engineering or talk to someone who works as an engineer.

Role play is another great way to immerse students in potential career paths in a group activity. Each student may take on the role of different occupations and interact as a professional. For example, maybe a student wants to open a bakery. They would role-play as a bakery owner, and another student may role-play as a demanding customer. The bakery owner must use communication and self-management skills to maintain a positive customer service experience. 

Finally, children learn best through doing rather than simply reading or listening. Therefore, encourage students to participate in hands-on activities related to their interests as much as possible to develop fundamental skills in these areas and gather information about potential careers. For example, if students express interest in computer programming, they would benefit from using tools like an Arduino and RaspberryPi in a makerspace classroom . Here, they can develop the CTE skills they need to become a future robotics programmer or tech innovator. 

Model Curiosity

Career exploration should be unbiased and inspire students to explore what's possible. Educators can inspire this by modeling curiosity in the classroom. 

One way to engage students is by inspiring them to stay curious — not only about the world around them but also about the possibilities for their future careers. When educators ask questions about what students want to be when they grow up or what kind of work interests them most, it helps them begin thinking about these things themselves. Ask students to imagine their future. What would make them happy? How might they feel fulfilled in a career? Curiosity is the best pathway to lead students to explore a million possibilities that lay in front of them.

Curiosity creates a growth-oriented mindset because students are inspired to push further and pursue their dreams. It requires self-awareness and self-motivation. Without curiosity, we wouldn't be sending astronauts into outer space! 

Talk About the Process

Another essential element of elementary school career exploration is ensuring students understand the whole process of career exploration and preparedness. One study found that 98% of surveyed teachers agreed that introducing children to the world of work was important, as it helped children link school subjects with the world of work. 

While career exploration and preparedness aren't linear, below is a general overview of the lengthy process. First, students must understand the time and energy they'll spend over 12+ years preparing for the workplace. 

  • Career awareness - Making students aware of different career options.
  • Career research - It gives students the space to dig into different career paths to ensure they fit their lifestyle. 
  • Career planning - Once students feel confident about the path they want, help them map out a plan to help them achieve it! This can include high school course selection, college selection, creating a resume or portfolio, and more.
  • Building credentials - Achieving academically, taking internships and volunteer opportunities, and joining professional organizations are great ways to pad their resume. 
  • Job Search - Students will need to prepare for their job search by thinking through desired salary, benefits, company size, etc., so they know what to look for on their quest. Then they'll compile their resume, cover letters, and other materials they need to submit applications. 
  • Interviewing - Students must be prepared to communicate their skills and interests to interviewers. 
  • Leveling Up - Career exploration doesn't stop when you get hired! Students should also be equipped with a passion for lifelong learning and motivation to continue progressing throughout their careers. 

While this may be overwhelming to elementary school students, it's also important to make them understand that their families, educators, and community members will be there to help them every step! 

Use the Power of Play 

When it comes to learning in elementary school, play is the best way! Using play in career exploration lessons keeps students more engaged and active participants in their education. 

Play is a powerful tool for learning because it involves imagination and creativity. When students play games or engage in other activities that don't have specific goals or outcomes, they can create solutions without the pressure of failure hanging over their heads.

Play also encourages students' natural curiosity about the world around them. It allows them to explore new things without fear of judgment from others. This makes it easier for them to take risks and try new things. Along the way, they may discover a career they wouldn't normally consider!

One way to incorporate technology and play into career exploration is with metaverse games . It's a perfect way to make learning feel like a game. At Kai XR, we believe that the future of education is interactive, engaging, and tech-forward learning. The metaverse is a powerful tool to achieve this. The fact that it helps students understand cutting-edge technology is just a bonus! 

Start Exploring Today

Starting career exploration early can create positive outcomes for students. Kai XR can help you integrate career exploration into your elementary school in a fun, modern, and engaging way.  

We pair 360° immersive experiences with critical thinking prompts to help them develop 21st-century learning skills that they'll use in various job roles. Through experiential learning, students develop the skills to ask better questions, make better decisions, and draw conclusions about the world around them – including the role they want to play! 

Schedule your demo to get started! 

Was this helpful? You may also be interested in the following: 

  • VR Field Trips Help Build a Foundation of Social-Emotional Learning in Elementary School
  • Makerspace Ideas for Middle School and Beyond
  • What Does CTE Stand for In Education? (Plus Other FAQs)

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Tnt resources, tnt collegian, career activities.

Thinking about careers is fun - its also important.  Here are some downloadable, printable "worksheets" that help organize ideas and apply different ways to think about careers.  These are .pdf files - you will need Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view and print.  Click HERE to download.

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Getting First Graders Started With Research

Teaching academically honest research skills helps first graders learn how to collect, organize, and interpret information.

Photo of first graders on tablet in classroom

Earlier in my career, I was told two facts that I thought to be false: First graders can’t do research, because they aren’t old enough; and if facts are needed for a nonfiction text, the students can just make them up. Teachers I knew went along with this misinformation, as it seemed to make teaching and learning easier. I always felt differently, and now—having returned to teaching first grade 14 years after beginning my career with that age group—I wanted to prove that first graders can and should learn how to research. 

A lot has changed over the years. Not only has the science of reading given teachers a much better understanding of how to teach reading skills , but we now exist in a culture abundant in information and misinformation. It’s imperative that we teach academically honest research skills to students as early as possible. 

Use a Familiar Resource, and Pair it with a Planned Unit

How soon do you start research in first grade? Certainly not at the start of the year with the summer lapse in skills and knowledge and when new students aren’t yet able to read. By December of this school year, skills had either been recovered or established sufficiently that I thought we could launch into research. This also purposely coincided with a unit of writing on nonfiction—the perfect pairing.

The research needed an age-related focus to make it manageable, so I chose animals. I thought about taking an even safer route and have one whole class topic that we researched together, so that students could compare notes and skills. I referred back to my days working in inquiry-based curriculums (like the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program) and had students choose which animal to study. Our school librarian recommended that we use Epic because the service has an abundance of excellent nonfiction animal texts of different levels.

Teach the Basics for Organized Research 

I began with a conversation about academic honesty and why we don’t just copy information from books. We can’t say this is our knowledge if we do this; it belongs to the author. Instead, we read and learn. Then, we state what we learned in our own words. Once this concept is understood, I model how to do this by creating a basic step-by-step flowchart taught to me by my wife—a longtime first-grade and kindergarten teacher and firm believer in research skills.

  • Read one sentence at a time.
  • Turn the book over or the iPad around.
  • Think about what you have learned. Can you remember the fact? Is the fact useful? Is it even a fact?
  • If the answer is no, reread the sentence or move onto the next one.
  • If the answer is yes, write the fact in your own words. Don’t worry about spelling. There are new, complex vocabulary words, so use your sounding-out/stretching-out strategies just like you would any other word. Write a whole sentence on a sticky note.
  • Place the sticky note in your graphic organizer. Think about which section it goes in. If you aren’t sure, place it in the “other facts” section.

The key to collecting notes is the challenging skill of categorizing them. I created a graphic organizer that reflected the length and sections of the exemplar nonfiction text from our assessment materials for the writing unit. This meant it had five pages: an introduction, “what” the animal looks like, “where” the animal lives, “how” the animal behaved, and a last page for “other facts” that could become a general conclusion.

Our district’s literacy expert advised me not to hand out my premade graphic organizer too soon in this process because writing notes and categorizing are two different skills. This was my intention, but I forgot the good advice and handed out the organizer right away. This meant dedicating time for examining and organizing notes in each combined writing and reading lesson. A lot of one-on-one feedback was needed for some students, while others flourished and could do this work independently. The result was that the research had a built-in extension for those students who were already confident readers.

Focus on What Students Need to Practice 

Research is an essential academic skill but one that needs to be tackled gradually. I insisted that my students use whole sentences rather than words or phrases because they’re at the stage of understanding what a complete sentence is and need regular practice. In this work, there’s no mention of citation language and vetting sources; in the past, I’ve introduced those concepts to students in fourth grade and used them regularly with my fifth-grade students. Finding texts that span the reading skill range of a first-grade class is a big enough task. 

For some of the key shared scientific vocabulary around science concepts, such as animal groups (mammals, etc.) or eating habits (carnivore, etc.), I created class word lists, having first sounded out the words with the class and then asked students to attempt spelling them in their writing.

The Power of Research Can Facilitate Student Growth 

I was delighted with the results of the research project. In one and a half weeks, every student had a graphic organizer with relevant notes, and many students had numerous notes. With my fourth- and fifth-grade students, I noticed that one of the biggest difficulties for them was taking notes and writing them in a way that showed a logical sequence. Therefore, we concluded our research by numbering the notes in each section to create a sequential order. 

This activity took three lessons and also worked for my first graders. These organized notes created an internal structure that made the next step in the writing process, creating a first draft of their nonfiction teaching books, so much easier. 

The overall result was that first graders were able to truly grasp the power of research and gathering accurate facts. I proved that young children can do this, especially when they work with topics that already fascinate them. Their love of learning motivated them to read higher-level and more sophisticated texts than they or I would normally pick, further proving how interest motivates readers to embrace complexity.

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Research Careers

The information provided here is for students who are looking for career information as they research careers in career exploration programs. Let us know if there are other careers you would like us to include, or if you find links that aren't working anymore. Also, we would love to hear of additional career information resources that would be helpful for students doing their career research.

Click on a career listed below to learn more about it.

  • Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
  • Opens in a new window.

Bright Hub Education

A Career Research Project for Middle School

At the middle school level, students should start thinking about what they really want to do so that they can start preparing for that career. Students will complete a career inventory, research three careers and present the information in the project to the class.

Career Inventory

Now that students have been in the school system for several years, some may have decided that they really don’t want to go to college for more than eight years to be a doctor. However, some do not know what they want to do.

Some schools use printed career inventories and these can become part of this project. However, there are many free career inventories online that student can complete. Teachers should try them out before asking students to go online. Many websites ask for email addresses to send the results. The teacher could have all the students give the teacher’s school email address so that all the results go to the teacher first. However, teachers should follow their school Internet policies when completing this project.

Once the career inventories are completed, students should have a list of possible careers that they might be interested in researching. Students should select three careers on which they would like to complete additional research.

Career Research

Now that students have three possible careers, they can start researching those jobs. They need to find out the following for each career:

1. Career Preparation

  • Amount of years of college and or job training needed: on the job training, one year certificate, Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree or Doctorate Degree.
  • Amount of training time on the job before a full salary can be earned.

2. Job Description

  • Describe the day-to-day duties and tasks that are required of the job.
  • Describe equipment and/or technology that will be used on the job.
  • Describe the setting for the career, such as a hospital, ship, office building, outdoors, etc.
  • Explain the parts of the country where a student can find this job.

3. Pay or Salary

  • Describe a starting salary or rate of pay per hour for this job (sometimes students find a top salary that is unrealistic for a beginning worker).

When students have found the information for three careers, they need to prepare a report that they will share as a presentation. First, they need to decide what career they like best from all of the information. Then, they need to report on why this career is the best fit for them. They should give the facts about the other jobs and why the other two jobs are not a good fit for them. They also need to find a visual aid, such as equipment/technology used on the job, uniform worn, place of work, etc.

Presentation and Assessment

Once students have written up their reports on their top choice for a career, they need to write it out on note cards. Students need to practice presenting their reports as homework. Then, they will present their information to the class.

To assess the presentation, teachers can use a rubric. The criteria for the rubric could be as follows: career information and facts, voice, eye contact, and visual aids. Teachers can have students write out their report in a final copy format and assess that as well.

This project is one that students will see has a real-world application. Most will be very excited to be thinking about their future and what they really want to be when they grow up.

This post is part of the series: Help Your Students Set Future Goals & Plan for Careers With These Lesson Plans

It’s never too early for students to think about what they will do once their graduation cap is tossed in the air and high school is behind them. Help your students prepare for and think about their future with these lesson plans meant to motivate and inspire.

  • Help Your Students Reach For the Stars With a Classroom Goal Tree
  • Project for Middle School Students to Research Careers
  • A Lesson on Goal Setting for Students: A Vital Skill for Success


  1. Career Exploration Worksheets For Elementary Students

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  2. Career Research Worksheet by FACS Stands For FUN

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  3. Ms. Lyons' 5th Grade Blog: Career Research Projects

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  4. Career Research Project by Danco Resources

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  5. 20 Fun Career Activities for Elementary Students

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  6. Career Skills Research and Discussion Projects

    career research project for elementary students


  1. Final Research Project

  2. Career Research Project

  3. Welcome to the research project class

  4. Module 4


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    Career Exploration for Elementary Students - 7 Activities for Kids It's never too early to encourage a little career exploration in your students. After all, you're not going to hold them accountable to what they say now — are you? Today, they might want to be doctors, lawyers, and musicians. Tomorrow: Olympic athletes and astronauts.

  6. Career Exploration for Elementary Students: Considering it for your

    Career Exploration for Elementary Students: Considering it for your Classroom? Ryan Crawley | September 10, 2019 How early should students start planning their futures? Consider spending some time on career exploration for elementary students. As someone who has taught college, high school, and elementary, nothing really shocks me anymore.

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    Reading Time: 7 minutes 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

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  9. Results for career research project for elementary students

    Career Research Project For Elementary School Students l Distance Learning Created by Lesson Plan Dude This is a career research project. The unit will give your 4th and 5th grade students the opportunity to explore a career they are interested in. The project was used in a 4th/5th grade special education pull-out class.

  10. Results for career research for elementary students

    Career Research Project For Elementary School Students l Distance Learning Created by Lesson Plan Dude This is a career research project. The unit will give your 4th and 5th grade students the opportunity to explore a career they are interested in. The project was used in a 4th/5th grade special education pull-out class.

  11. Explore STEM Careers with a Remote Learning Project

    Doing a "career"-focused project can be a really effective way to keep students excited about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) during school closures and as part of your online learning strategy. A career project assignment is perfectly suited for remote learning.

  12. Research Project Template For Elementary Students

    Research Project Template For Elementary Students Hey teachers! Are you searching for one easy resource that keeps on giving, all year long? My Research Project Template for Elementary Students is perfect for you!

  13. 20 Fun Career Activities for Elementary Students

    This is a fun research project that will raise awareness about career options. Kuder Galaxy | Career Awareness for Elementary Students. Learn more: School Counselor Blog. 12. Career QR Code Activity. This is definitely a writing project! To gets students thinking, but also include research. The career template is an layout that can be used ...

  14. PDF Career Exploration Lessons for Sixth and Seventh Grades

    12 Career Exploration Lessons for Sixth and Seventh Grades Activity 2: Pass out the Planning for My Career worksheet. Explain to students they are to use the space provided to write down ideas about exploring different careers. Assessment: Check to make sure all students have completed both worksheets accurately and thoroughly.

  15. Career Exploration For Your Elementary Students

    Career exploration is the process of discovering, evaluating, and learning about modern career paths and how students can pursue the careers of their choice. But it's more than that. Elementary school career exploration should spark curiosity, showcase career opportunities, and foster self-awareness. It should help students learn more about ...

  16. Mr. Breitsprecher's Career Activities

    A career portfolio is a visual representation of your abilities, skills, capabilities, knowledge, qualities - and it represents your potential. Career Portfolio for Middle School Students. This is a comprehensive guide to creating portfolios. Career Research Worksheet. This simple, 1 page guide provides an easy-to-use format to research ...

  17. Introducing Research Skills to Elementary Students

    Teaching academically honest research skills helps first graders learn how to collect, organize, and interpret information. Earlier in my career, I was told two facts that I thought to be false: First graders can't do research, because they aren't old enough; and if facts are needed for a nonfiction text, the students can just make them up ...

  18. How to Design an Elementary Research Project

    3) Provide " open ended questions" for inquiry. All research begins with inquiry questions. Either provide them for students or instruct them to write their own first, before they begin to research. So, just like anything else, you are going to want to break down the research process into small chunks. There are complicated 7-step research ...

  19. Career Research Project For Elementary School Students l Distance ...

    Career Research Project For Elementary School Students l Distance Learning This is a career research project. The unit will give your 4th and 5th grade students the opportunity to explore a career they are interested in. The project was used in a 4th/5th grade special education pull-out class. It can be also used in the regular education classroom.

  20. Research Careers

    Career Profile: Zookeeper. Watch on. The information provided here is for students who are looking for career information as they research careers in career exploration programs. Let us know if there are other careers you would like us to include, or if you find links that aren't working anymore. Also, we would love to hear of additional career ...

  21. A Career Research Project for Middle School

    1. Career Preparation Amount of years of college and or job training needed: on the job training, one year certificate, Associate's Degree, Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree or Doctorate Degree. Amount of training time on the job before a full salary can be earned. 2. Job Description

  22. Results for career interest elementary

    Help your students connect their current classroom learning to their future goals and aspirations with this fun research project designed just for elementary level kiddos. This project is perfect to build intrinsic motivation and connect to real world learning!Students will explore different career paths that match their strengths and interests.They will research their dream career to discover ...

  23. Results for career research elementary students

    Career Research Project For Elementary School Students l Distance Learning. Created by. Lesson Plan Dude. This is a career research project. The unit will give your 4th and 5th grade students the opportunity to explore a career they are interested in. The project was used in a 4th/5th grade special education pull-out class.

  24. 30 Summer Research Programs for High School Students in 2024

    Participants can work directly in UT Austin's state-of-the-art laboratories, engaging in ongoing research projects alongside faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate research assistants. This hands-on experience is invaluable, allowing students to delve into STEM fields through practical, real-world applications.