How kids can develop research skills

What do you do when you want to learn how to cook a new dish? You might search for a step-by-step recipe on YouTube, text a friend, or flip through a cookbook. In doing so, you’re utilizing your research skills! 

As you can see, research skills are essential for everyday life and go beyond science and English classes. Luckily, kids can start learning how to research as early as elementary school. 

Here are a few ways young students can develop their exploration skills through fun activities and projects.

Break down the research process

Before diving into a research project, introduce learners to how research works. For elementary and middle school students, break up the investigative process into a few main steps:

  • Choose a topic. What are your learners curious about? Is there a question they want to find the answer to?
  • Search for information. Have students collect information from a variety of sources. Sometimes research involves doing experiments and writing about it, or sometimes it means examining what others have written about that topic and pulling that information together.
  • Organize the information. The next step is to sort the data into categories.
  • Share findings. Students can present knowledge in the form of a research paper, graphic organizer, or PowerPoint slides.

While there are a few different ways students can share their research findings, this research writing lesson plan can help learners understand the fundamental research process.

5 research ideas for elementary students  

1. Superheroes 

In this activity, students will research their favorite superheroes and identify which superpowers are real and which aren’t. They’ll also present their findings through several graphic organizers.  

2. Toys

Do your students know where their toys come from or how they’re created? This fun activity allows kids to research their favorite place: the toy store. 

3. Polar bears

This worksheet guides kids to a few interesting questions about polar bears that students will need to use their research skills to find the answers to. This activity can also apply to any animal that your learners love. 

4. Electronics

Your learners probably use electronics every day, but do they know how they were invented? Find out in this activity! 

5. Clothes

Where’d you get those cool kicks? Invite kids to discover where and how their clothing and shoes are produced in this important research activity.  

3 research ideas for middle schoolers  

1. Careers

Through this graphic organizer, students will research a career that interests them. Along the way, they’ll develop their research, note-taking, and writing skills.

2. Invasive Species 

Integrate science and writing in this research activity! Learners will learn more about an invasive species, understand the species’ effects on the environment, and discuss possible solutions to the problem.

3. Can a balloon power a car? 

Challenge your students to put Newton’s second law of motion in action! In this engineering and science project, learners will use their research skills to design a car powered by a balloon and everyday objects.

For more research project ideas, browse through’s Learning Library!