Ready? Aim! Engage! 20 Activities to Energize Your AP Class
At Lake Park High School (LPHS), the social studies department crafted 20 class activities that keep their AP® students engaged throughout the year. Their courses follow three principles:
- Students should be challenged.
- Students should build comradery with their peers.
- There is always room for fun.
Located in Roselle, Illinois, LPHS consists of 2,500 students, of whom approximately a third have experience with the Advanced Placement® program. This year, more than 2,000 AP exams were given at LPHS, a substantial increase from the 300 exams originally given 20 years ago.
During an interactive session at the 2023 AP Annual Conference, Michael Foleno, Don Fulmer, Alexandra Hamilton, Katherine Hennig, and Jeff Sichz shared pre- and post-exam activities utilized to not only build a community amongst their students but to encourage challenges and excitement in their history classes. 60% of their courses are made up of reading and notetaking, while 40% consist of these hands-on activities.
With a simple scan of a QR code, attendees could choose five activities they were most eager to learn about from the list of twenty activities that were focused either on academics or community building.
Presenters prioritized presenting the following five activities with the most votes:
Historical Dinner Party
Students work in pairs to choose historical figures from an assigned time period and orchestrate dinner party arrangements such as the food, seating, and potential dinner table conversation topics. Students must provide the reasoning for each component. This creative freedom allows students to build connections in history and better understand historical figures.
Divided into teams of two, teachers provide students with a source each round. Teams send a different player to face the opposing team and are given two minutes to devise the winning sourcing statement. Regardless of whether the student is on the sidelines waiting for their turn or competing, each student is working on a sourcing statement. With the desirable extra credit prize at stake, students feel motivated to think and work strategically as a team, ensuring an interactive review session.
This activity keeps students engaged post-exam as it is filled with history-themed riddles and clues to unlock a “breakout box” with a certificate awaiting inside. Students work together to “escape history class.”
World History Timeline
With a 10-foot piece of paper and color-coordinated Post-It notes, students work in groups to create the ultimate timeline—incorporating events, empires, and civilizations in chronological order. This hands-on activity allows students to visualize and retain information before their exams.
The AP Olympics celebrates a year's worth of hard work after exams. For five days, students participate in over 20 team activities, varying from relay races, puzzles, decoding, etc, using their AP history knowledge to prevail as their class Olympians.
These activities foster an environment where enthusiasm and learning coexist, captivating students and efficiently preparing them for exam day. Each activity keeps students anticipating what adventure their history class will take them on next.