Top 10 Classroom Activities of the 2023-24 School Year

As the school year ends, we looked at which FREE classroom activities and learning tools our Empowered Teachers accessed the most.

by Kimberly Yates, M.Ed. and Kasey Millar

As summer break approaches, we looked at which free lesson plans were our Top 10 Classroom Activities the 2023-24 School Year based on access by Empowered Educators.  

We’re always excited about our activities here at Empowered because we hope they help our educators get their students more-engaged in the learning process. Over 10,000 members of the Empowered Community – through Empowered Hub – have accessed our library of 125+ hands-on activities that can be easily customized for any group of learners since August. These are the Top 10 Classroom Activities of the 2023-24 School Year.

Which activity do you think came in at number one? We listed off the top ten with a link to access the activity guide and support materials inside Empowered Hub (NOTE – a free account is required to access Hub links. Click here to create/log-in to yours).

Number 10:  Foundational Principles Face-Off  

When Dawn Empson did this bracket battle, Integrity, Knowledge and Passion were the principles that came out on top. But the real winners were her students who engaged in great discussions with each other and had lots of light bulb moments about the importance of principles. We think it’s a great activity at any point during the school year.

Number 9: Foundational Principles Walkabout  

Our Educational Materials Manager, Kasey Millar, created the Foundational Principles Walkabout when she was still a classroom teacher. And it’s still a hit because it gets students out of their seats, actively engaged in the learning process. Try it out or let us know what activities you use to keep your students moving. 

Number 8: Towers   

This is one of our personal favorites, not just because it shows students how voluntary exchange helps them create value for themselves and others but also because we love seeing the final products. From robot towers to solo cups to construction paper, you’ll be amazed at what your students can create. 

Number 7: Lemonade Day  

Our friends at Lemonade Day always make us smile and this activity brings us the same feeling. The group, and this activity, introduce students to the many considerations and facets of creating and running their own business – a lemonade stand – the quintessential “first business” for budding business minds.  

Number 6: Human Treasure Hunt   

If you’re already thinking about next year, you might want to add Human Treasure Hunt to your initial plans.  Educators like Sean Manning and Rod Hames have told us it’s a go-to to get their students networking and getting to know each other better. You could also use it as you wrap up the year to help students form bonds before moving on. 

Number 5: Personal Branding Project   

Montana teacher, Jeannette Barreto, says using this project at the beginning of the semester helps her get to know her students in a more personal way. Students can design a cereal box, t-shirt, poster, digital media – anything that showcases their unique personalities. Plan two class periods and watch the creativity fly.

Number 4: PIT with Name Cards 

Charisse Woodward of Virginia uses this networking activity to help students get to know each other and as a review game. Either way it helps students see what they might have in common with other students while also learning valuable negotiating skills. Since all you need to get started is notecards and writing utensils, it’s an easy activity to add to your curriculum.

Number 3: Deserted Island   

When she has her students collaborate and decide which items they need for survival on a deserted island, Joey Running also has them put their four choices into a bag to emphasize that everything else is getting left behind. While actually getting stranded in the middle of the ocean might seem unlikely, this activity helps drive home the real world importance of critical thinking skills and pitching ideas.

Number 2: Paper Airplane Factory   

If you’ve been to one of our in-person trainings, you’ve probably seen the  Paper Airplane Factory lesson in action. With a focus on “fail cheap and fail fast,” participants automatically get caught up in the excitement of prototyping different paper airplanes while exploring their comparative advantage. 


Number 1: Market Day   

We have to admit, we’re not surprised to see Market Day snag the number one spot. If you search Empowered Hub for “#MarketDay”, you’ll see this capstone activity has dozens of hits. We think it’s a great way for students to experience what it is like to have their very own pop-up business.

Did your favorite activity make the Top 10 Classroom Activities of the 2023-24 School Year list? Did your favorite activity not make the list? We’d love to hear from you in the Hub.


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