Career Unit K-5

I have a confession. Here it is: I don’t like doing career lessons. I know, I know, career lessons are important! Because I know this, I made it a goal of mine to expand and improve upon my lessons in this area. As it turns out, I actually had a lot of fun doing them this year!

This post is all about the lessons I did in each grade K-5. Some of the ideas are borrowed, others I made myself. Please feel free to borrow any ideas/materials you’d like to use for your own lessons!

Kindergarten & First Grade

For the young ones, I started the career unit with a borrowed lesson from theย Elementary School Counseling blog. We discussed what a job and a career is, and then we looked at the Whose Vehicle Is This? posters. Students guessed which career the vehicle would be used for, and we talked about why each career is important in our community.

Here’s an example of one vehicle:


Next, each student was given a vehicle page and was instructed to draw a person who does that job on the back. We shared with the class when finished. This is a good time to discuss with students that jobs are not gender specific – we see this when we look at each student’s picture. Here are a few examples of student work:

A garbage person
A garbage collector
A farmer
A farmer
An ice cream truck driver
An ice cream truck driver

Second Grade

For second graders, I borrowed a “career toolbox” lesson from Lisa, a counselor who posted it in the Elementary School Counselor Exchange Facebook Group. I collected various items and put them all in a box with a cover. For the lesson, I called students up one at a time to reach their hand in and pull out an item. Once they saw what the item was, they guessed what career(s) the item might be used for. The rest of the class also shared their ideas.

Examples of items I put in the box: a ruler, pencil, flashlight, compass, map, dog leash, manicure set, book, screw driver, rubber glove, floss, cell phone, walkie talkie, etc.

The students had a lot of fun with this activity! It was engaging because they wanted to see what item would come out next! It also covered a lot of different careers quickly.

As a follow up, we read “When I Grow Up” by Al Yankovic (always a favorite for kids) and students shared various jobs they’re interested in having.

When I grow up book

Goal-Setting Lesson (K-2)

To expand on the career lessons, I presented a goal-setting lesson and discussed how setting goals for yourself is a part of having a job or career. I was pleasantly surprised that in all classrooms, students were able to understand that there are two kinds of goals – the kind you score on a sports field, and the kind you set for yourself because you want to get better at something. We discussed that part of goal-setting is making a plan to meet your goal and thinking about people who could help you get there.

I created goal-setting posters and laminated them. Some of the posters showed an example of a goal and asked what that person could do to meet his/her goal. Other posters asked students to identify a goal for themselves that related to school, home, friendships, recess, etc.

In K & 1st, I laid several posters on the floor and had each student pick one they wanted to talk about by giving it a good swat with their hand (this got out some energy!). In 2nd grade, the students did a ‘long jump’ and whichever poster they landed on was the one they talked about. The students liked this, although it wasย a bit slippery because the posters were laminated…so some simply stepped on the poster they wanted to choose.

I was impressed that the majority of students were able to come up with appropriate answers for how someone could meet their goal!

Here’s a link to the posters I created: Goal-Setting Scenarios.

Third Grade

I employed the use of my career dolls that I’ve used in years past.

Career dolls
Career dolls

The activity that third graders completed was in groups. I put students in small groups and had one person from each choose a career doll from a bag without looking. Once they had their career doll, I gave them a notecard that listed the career (to avoid any confusion), and a worksheet.

The worksheet had the following questions:

  • What are the strengths of a person in this career?
  • Why is this career important in our community?
  • Is anyone inย your group interested in this career? Why or why not?

After the groups finished, we came back together to share about each career. In one class, a group had the teacher doll – they shared that no one in their group wanted to be a teacher because “it’s too much work” and “kids are too loud.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

Fourth Grade

Fourth grade lessons were all about multiple intelligences! I truly believe that all kids are smart and so many of them don’t believe they are because they’re not smart in the traditional reading/writing/arithematic way. I wasn’t surprised that when I opened the lesson by asking how do you know how smart you are, many students answered with “scores on a test” or “how easy the work is for you to do.” When I said there are 8 different ways to be smart, I got some crazy looks!

I had each student complete this Learning Styles Survey:

Multiple Intelligences Quiz

On the back of each survey was a visual of the 8 intelligence areas:

Multiple Intelligences Cartoon strip

After completing the survey and tallying their scores, students were grouped based on their highest intelligence area. Many had a tie for highest, so I had them choose the one they felt was most like them or the one they were most interested in. I reminded them that this is just a short survey and does not tell them everything about how smart they are.

In groups, students were given a poster of their kind of smarts to help them answer questions. I used these wonderful You’re a Smart Kid posters for free!

You're a smart kid poster pic

Each group worked together to answer questions and then each group shared with the class. Here are few examples of their work:



Check out the first career this group listed :)
Check out the first career this group listed ๐Ÿ™‚


Fifth Grade

I spent a lot of time searching for a paper and pencil survey or quiz that my fifth graders could take to open their eyes to possible career opportunities. I know there are many online surveys, but I didn’t want to rely on technology. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Each student completed a four-page Interest Survey that, when scored, brought them to career clusters they may be interested in pursuing. I was impressed with my 5th graders because they took their time answering each section to really narrow down their interest areas. Because they took their time, we didn’t have enough left over to do the group work portion of the lesson, but that’s okay….you gotta be flexible, right?

After the students had self scored their surveys, I had as many as time would allow share their top career cluster and answer a few questions about it:

  • What kinds of careers fall under this cluster?
  • What are the strengths of a person in this career?
  • What will you have to do in order to have this career? (College? Special training? Improve a specific skill?)

After sharing, we briefly discussed that as they continue their education into middle school, knowing their interests is important because they can expand their knowledge and skills by taking certain classes or joining certain clubs/groups. My 5th graders, at this point in the year, are ready for this kind of conversation. I was pleased that so many of them already had a career they were interested in and it came through in their surveys! ๐Ÿ™‚

And, finally…

Whenever I do a unit like this, especially for the first time, I like to share it! Hey, we have to promote all the good stuff we do, right? So, I pieced together the career unit into a one-page newsletter for parents. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out: May Newsletter 2014

Phew….the career unit was a lot of work to create and plan for, but it was worth it! ๐Ÿ™‚


32 thoughts on “Career Unit K-5

  1. Thanks for sharing, will definitely use some of these lessons. Anything you can email to me would be great.
    By the way, that was me in the FB exchange that shared my career toolbox lesson when the kids reach their hand in! They love it!
    Where did you get your career dolls?
    I especially like the multiple intelligences sheets!

    • Oh yay! I couldn’t remember who shared it. Thank you for the wonderful idea! It went very well with my second graders. ๐Ÿ™‚ I believe I ordered the career dolls from Amazon.

  2. Great ideas for career counseling, I also find this the most difficult when it comes to classroom lessons. I appreciate the information!

    • Thanks, Kelly! I’ve always struggled with career lessons, so I’m glad to have some put together for each grade that I can repeat in the coming years! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Can you tell me where your survey is that you used for your 5th graders? I’m getting ready to do 5th grade lessons and have also been looking for an interest inventory for them to complete, especially before middle school. Thank you!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing!! We’re incorporating more college and career readiness into our elementary schools, and these lessons are perfect!! Can’t wait to use them!

  5. Great ideas and help! Where can I find the Learning Style worksheet, Multiple Intelligence cartoon explanation sheet and the worksheets?

    • Hi Carly, you should be able to click on the learning style and cartoon pictures and it’ll take you to the pdf to download. I’m not sure which worksheets you mean, but most of what I used is linked right in the post!

  6. Hi! Thanks for sharing these wonderful lessons! How can I access the Kindergarten/First Grade Lesson? It says I need a password when I click on the link. Thanks!

    • Hi Jessica! I’m not sure why the link to the blog is now password protected, that’s weird. However, if you click on the Whose Vehicle Is This link, it should bring you to the pictures of each vehicle.

  7. Hi! Thank you so much for sharing! I am trying to implement career lessons for K-2 and these are great! How can I access the goal setting posters you mentioned in your newsletter?

  8. Hi there! I am having difficulties seeing all of your items from the 4th grade lesson. Is there any way you could email me the multiple intelligences quiz and cartoon strip? Thank you for sharing your lesson!

  9. Hello! Can you share the lesson you did for 1st grade? Was it just the โ€œWhose Vehicle is This? Or was there more? Thanks!

  10. Kayla thank you so much for posting these. I am a career counselor new to my district and have been trying to think of creative ways to bring career exploration to the elementary schools! This is great!

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