Career Readiness | Middle School | Decision Making
5 Best Decision Making Activities for Middle School
For nearly 10 years, Bri has focused on creating content to address the questions and concerns educators have about teaching classes, preparing students for certifications, and making the most of the AES curriculum system.
If you teach career readiness in middle school, you likely need to incorporate a wide variety of professional and 21st Century skills in your lessons. And while there are a ton of resources out there related to essential skills like communication, teamwork, and media literacy, teachers tell us there are a few topics that are a bit harder to tackle.
Decision making is one such crucial skill that every student needs to develop if they want to feel confident in the choices they make about their future. However, believe it or not, there aren’t many age-appropriate resources available to help teach decision making ability to middle schoolers!
As a career readiness curriculum developer, we know how important decision making is as a career skill, and we talk to middle school teachers every day looking for engaging exercises and games they can use to teach it to their students. In response, we composed this list.
In this article, you'll discover a list of the five best decision making activities and games for middle school students:
- Decision Making Activity from The Colorado Education Initiative
- Informed Decision Making Activity from the Florida Department of Education
- “In A Pickle” Decision Making Activity from Carol Miller
- Decision Making and Problem Solving Activity from The Sunny Sunshine Student Support Store
- Decision Making Middle School Bundle from etiQit
By the end of this article, you'll have enough detailed information about each of these decision making activities to decide which ones to use in your class.
1. Decision Making Activity from The Colorado Education Initiative
The first option on our list is a decision making activity from The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI). This six-page resource gives teachers a great outline for introducing students to the steps of decision making.
The CEI defines these steps as:
- Identifying a decision that needs to be made
- Brainstorming possible options
- Identifying possible outcomes for the options
- Making a decision
- Reflecting on the decision
The lesson plan outlines each step of the decision-making process to your students as well as ideas and teaching tips.
In addition, you’ll get a three-page handout for students that provides more context and structure for going through the decision-making process.
The only downside to this resource is if your students have trouble thinking of possible decision-making scenarios, you’ll need to provide some examples yourself.
You can prepare for that with a quick brainstorm before your class to ensure your students stay on track throughout the lesson.
If you’re looking for an activity that comes with pre-created scenarios, the next option could be a better fit for you!
2. Informed Decision Making Activity from the Florida Department of Education
Another great resource for teaching career readiness skills is the Florida Department of Education (DOE) Educator’s Toolkit.
In the toolkit, you’ll find a lesson plan called Informed Decision Making that focuses on the importance of seeking information before making a decision.
Specifically, students learn about the decision-making process and then apply that knowledge to scenarios. To accomplish this, the activity is broken into two parts:
First is the “poker chip activity,” in which you’ll highlight the importance of having as much information as possible prior to making a decision.
Second, you’ll move onto the larger portion of the lesson to explain the Florida DOE’s seven steps of decision making:
- Defining the problem
- Gathering information and resources
- Listing options
- Comparing options
- Making a decision
- Making a plan of action
- Evaluating the decision
After you explain each step, students will apply the process to different scenarios and you’ll end by discussing the decisions as a class or in groups.
Overall, this resource from the Florida DOE is a great way to tie decision making into other topics in your career readiness classes.
The only downside is that there isn’t much variety when it comes to the provided scenarios.
If you want more than four options to give your students relevant examples, check out the next resource on our list!
3. “In A Pickle” Decision Making Activity from Carol Miller
The “In A Pickle” decision making activity is provided by Carol Miller, a popular educator on the Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) marketplace.
This resource includes a variety of materials to help you teach good decision making, including:
- 32 scenario cards
- Instructions for the teacher
- Two classroom posters
- Situation questions for discussion
- A student worksheet about choices and consequences
In total, the download has 23 pages of content that you can buy for $5.
Overall, this activity provides an excellent, engaging introduction to decision making for any middle school classroom.
The only downside is this activity is short unless you find a way to stretch the time, so it would likely work best when used alongside other activities or games.
To dedicate more time to decision making in your lessons, you could combine this option with the next one on the list!
4. Decision Making and Problem Solving Activity from The Sunny Sunshine Student Support Store
The Sunny Sunshine Student Support Store is another well-known vendor on Teachers Pay Teachers with great resources any middle school teacher will love.
One of their popular lessons is the Decision Making and Problem Solving Lesson and Activity.
This activity-based lesson, referred to as “Stuck in a Jam,” starts with a discussion about making choices and explains the decision making model.
Once students understand the basic concepts, they’ll apply what they’ve learned to a number of different scenarios.
In total, if you purchase this resource ($3.50), you’ll get:
- A full lesson plan
- A visual of their decision making model
- 32 decision making scenario cards
What’s great about this activity is that it ties decision making to another important skill -- problem solving.
However, as with the previous resources, this lesson won’t fill a full class period, and will likely work better when used alongside other activities, or within a bigger lesson plan.
If you’re looking for decision making resources that will fill multiple class periods, the last resource on our list could be perfect for you!
5. Decision Making Middle School Bundle from etiQit
etiQit is another publisher on TpT with resources for middle school decision making lessons.
However, rather than just one resource, they have a full Decision Making Middle School Bundle!
This “bundle” is made up of three separate “mini-units” that focus on different aspects of making decisions, such as:
- Positive risks
- Negative risks
- Social pressure
For each mini unit, you’ll find:
- A teacher presentation (projectable and printable)
- A student worksheet
- A practice activity
- An extension activity
- A writing activity
- A “real life challenges” activity
- Answer keys
- Instructions and teaching tips
In total, you’ll get more than 20 resources to teach decision making in your classroom.
The only downside to this resource is the cost ($12.50), but the amount of time you save compared to making your own lessons makes this resource well worth the price!
Which Decision Making Activities Are Right for You?
In the end, there's no 'best' resource to help teach decision making skills in middle school. Each of these options could be a good supplement to your career readiness curriculum--you just have to judge for yourself and pick which is the best for you.
However, it's important to keep in mind that decision making is only one of many important career readiness skills your middle schoolers need to learn. After all, to be effective decision makers, students first need to know how to think critically and solve problems in their day-to-day lives!
If you're looking for a comprehensive solution that teaches career readiness skills like decision making, problem solving, and critical thinking, consider looking into Business&ITCenter21.
Business&ITCenter21 is used in thousands of classrooms to help teachers like you teach career exploration, professionalism, public speaking, and more.
Overall, it's designed to help you save time with planning, assessing, and grading student work so you can focus on helping your students succeed.
Wondering if Business&ITCenter21 could be a good fit for your classes? Check out our Critical Thinking learning module to find out: