Excel isn't just a software program for accountants and "number crunchers." Excel can be fun and educational for children as early as elementary school. Educators and parents can use Excel as a tool to teach everything from math to history. The key is to create projects that make data gathering fun and relevant to things students do on an everyday basis.
What's Your Sign?
Create a "What's Your Sign?" project to teach students basic list creation skills using Excel. Label the first horizontal column "birthday." Then make a column for each of the 12 zodiac signs. Prepare a word document work sheet with the first and last name of each child in the classroom. Have children use the worksheet to "interview" each other to get birth dates. Each student should compile the collected information into an Excel spreadsheet. Teach advanced skills such as how to make pie charts and graphs to demonstrate the percentage of children in the class that are born under each sign, or in each month.
Teach children how to create a timeline using Excel by creating their own personal biographical information. Create a vertical list of things their timeline should include, such as their date of birth, city where they were born, birthdays of younger siblings, and so forth. Teach the students how to use Excel to create a callout to enter captions on the dates of their various "firsts." Demonstrate how to sequentially order entries to finish completing their "My Life -- So Far" timeline.
"Eat Me" Lists
Have middle school and high school students create an "Eat Me" Excel sheet to learn how to create lists. Focus the project on calories and fat content for popular choices at fast food restaurants. Have students create a vertical list entries for total calories, fat calories, non-fat calories and the overall percentage of fat. Use the top horizontal column to enter the names of the restaurants. Make the second horizontal column a popular choice, such as fries from McDonald's, a shake from Wendy's, and a soft shell beef taco from Taco Bell. Have the children go to the website for each restaurant to get the calorie and fat information to enter on the Excel spreadsheet. Use the project as a teaching tool to help students understand what they are consuming when they eat at fast food restaurants.
Are We There Yet?
Use Excel to help children learn how to calculate distances to and from popular places for entertainment. Engage the children in selecting places of interest such as the zoo, museums and amusement parks. Use 5 or 6 places for horizontal data entry columns. Then, use vertical columns to have the students enter data such as the distance to the venue from their home, the hours of operation and the admission cost. Add even more fun to the project by allowing them to learn how to enter graphics for each venue.
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