Children in elementary school will have more thoughtful answers to the eternal question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” after a career day. During career day, students have the opportunity to learn about exciting careers from people who actually work in those fields. This encourages children to begin thinking about what they might want to be when they grow up. Teachers can increase the effectiveness of a career day event by keeping students engaged with an assortment of entertaining activities.

Career Passport

Invite children to collect stamps, showing where they have "traveled" on career day. Before career day, create pocket-sized passports for each student. Using paper for the inside pages and card stock for the cover, create small books that measure approximately 4 inches by 6 inches. Label the cover “My Career Passport."

Before career day, ask students to write their personal information on the first page of the passport. Tell students to draw a picture of themselves on this first page, as all passports contain pictures. Then ask students to write their name and birthday, and sign the bottom of the page. Tell the students that as they move throughout the career day, each presenter will stamp their books.

Provide presenters with stamps. If possible, give presenters small stamps that in some way represent their careers. Give a pencil stamp to a teacher, a dog stamp to a veterinarian and so forth. Ask the presenters to stamp the students' passports after each presentation. At the end of the day, look over the stamped passports with students and ask them to think about all the fun they had learning about the jobs people choose when they grow up.

Career Day Match-up

Turn career day into a scavenger hunt. When you make arrangements with each presenter, ask them to bring an object used in their job that may be unfamiliar to students. Ask the presenters what objects they will bring and explain to them that you are going to prepare a scavenger hunt. Prepare a worksheet to hand out to your students that lists all of the objects presenters will bring. For children in kindergarten or first grade, you may want to put a picture of the object along with the written name, making it easier for young children to complete the task.

On career day, pass these worksheets out to students. Tell them that they need to pay very close attention throughout the day, and be on the lookout for the items on the list. Tell students that when they come across one of the objects, they need to write next to it which career uses that object. At the end of the day, discuss the lists with students and decide which object goes with which career. Count up the number of objects that each student found, and reward the students who successfully found the most.

Picture Yourself A ...

After students have visited each of the career day presenters, it's time to ask them to reflect upon what they want to be when they grow up. Before the event, create an outline of a person on a sheet of computer paper. Photocopy this outline for all of your students.

Once students have finished their day of career exploration, give each student a copy of the handout. Ask students to write the name of their favorite job at the top of the page, and decorate the figure to represent this job. For example, children with an interest in becoming firefighters might draw red helmets, fire hoses, coats and boots on the figures. After students have decorated the figures, ask them to write several sentences explaining why they selected the career they did. Hang the completed pages around the room, displaying students' intended careers for all to see.