career exploration with elementary students
Students & YouthTips & Training

Tools and resources for career exploration with elementary students

With the right supports, career exploration can begin at any age. From videos to workbooks to journalling exercises, these resources can help school counsellors, educators, parents and other caring adults engage elementary school students in career exploration.

Want to learn more about the latest research in elementary career education? Sign up for the CareerWise Weekly newsletter so that you don’t miss the results of a CERIC-funded research project on “Career development in children: identifying critical success conditions and strategies “ (Ironwood Consulting), expected in early 2022.

Activities, books, programs and tools
All About Me – myBlueprint

All About Me grants children from kindergarten to Grade 6 access to a variety of tools that introduce them to the world of work. Whether exploring a new environment and the careers that inhabit them or trying a fun job match mini-game, students broaden their knowledge of future possibilities.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada – Learning & Career Development

These programs give young people opportunities to strengthen and acquire new skills, test their abilities and enhance career readiness. Programs for children include Discovery Lab, a program that connects science to real-world contexts, and Kid Tech Nation, which teaches children digital skills, coding concepts, internet safety and computational thinking.

Career and College Readiness Counseling in P-12 Schools

The third edition of this publication, written by Jennifer Curry and Amy Milsom, will be released in January 2022. The book focuses on helping readers translate theoretical knowledge into practice, addressing career development and college readiness by grade level in prekindergarten-12.

Career Development Elementary: Curriculum Guide (2017) (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

This 100+ page document offers a detailed at building an elementary school curriculum for career development, including activities and assessment tools. It also outlines curriculum outcomes.

Career Exploration in the Middle Grades: A Playbook for Educators (Association for Middle Level Education)

This Playbook – which has a PDF available for free download – aims to provide educators with a roadmap for creating effective career exploration programming. It includes implementation guides, case studies and program sustainability resources.

Career Education Resources: K-5 (CareerEd)

Tools such as learning maps and journals, as well as picture books and educator resources that can help students in kindergarten to Grade 5 expand their awareness of their personal interests and strengths and explore different types of careers.

Careers Are Everywhere! Activity Workbook (Texas Workforce Commission)

This workbook introduces students to the concept of self-knowledge, helping them to explore how their interests and skills connect to a variety of career clusters. It appears to be geared toward elementary students.


CareerGirls.org is a free, video-based career-exploration tool for girls. It has a collection of 10,000 career guidance videos focusing on diverse and accomplished women, including many who work in STEM fields. The website also offers a career quiz and a space to explore career clusters.


This website features numerous collections of paid resources educators, guidance counsellors and parents can use with students and youth to help them learn about career development. For instance, the “Career Exploration” collection includes books, DVDs and a game to guide children through career exploration.

Career Work in Action: Discussions and Activities for Professionals – Youth (CERIC)

This resource aims to help professionals who deliver career supports apply CERIC’s Guiding Principles of Career Development in meaningful ways with youth. Part of a series of six resources – each focused on different demographics – the youth edition offers starter questions, practical interventions and fun exercises to apply.

Imagine Your Life: A Discovery & Exploration Guide (Alis)

This Government of Alberta resource aims to help teachers guide students in Grades 4-6 through exploring the world of work and learning. It includes activities tied to specific learning objectives, such as relating personal interests to various occupations.

K-12 Career Exploration Lessons (Mississippi Department of Education)

A series of lesson plans for each grade from K-12 to help schools establish a career education program.

LEAP Into Careers! (4-H)

An activity book for facilitators to help students in Grades 3-5 understand careers. It is based on the four-part LEAP curriculum: 1. Youth discover and work with 12 foundational skills; 2. Youth learn about entrepreneurship; 3. Youth delve into the career fields; and 4. Youth design their own Learning Experiences Action Plan (LEAP).

The Early Years: Career Development for Young Children – A Guide for Educators and A Guide for Parents/Guardians (CERIC)

Based on CERIC-funded research conducted by Memorial University’s Dr. Mildred Cahill and Dr. Edith Furey, these guides explore the influence that educators and parents/guardians have on the career development process of children ages 3 to 8. The guides provide practical tips, activities and examples to help children develop a healthy sense of self in the early years and enable them to reach their full potential.

You can also watch a free webinar recording presented by Dr. Cahill on “How Parents Can Support Their Children’s Early Career Development.”


Xello is a digital platform that helps students discover the pathway that’s right for them using an investigative, discovery-based learning process. Students can identify their interests, skills, favourite career clusters, personality style and much more. They can save careers, schools, programs and experiences to form a visual roadmap that’s easy to update and share.

A Process for Guiding Middle School Students Through Career Exploration (NCDA – Career Convergence)

This article offers steps to a comprehensive approach to career education that goes beyond “Career Day.” It outlines an example of using the Career Compass tool with students, which helps students organize their research, opportunities and list achievements for each career they are interested in.

Career Education in Primary School (CDAA)

Regardless of whether they discuss it in school, children are learning about careers. Involving schools helps ensure that career learning is less random, less partial, more equal, more accurate and more able to challenge young people’s implicit stereotypes and assumptions, writes Tristram Hooley.

Careering magazine – multiple articles
Starting early – the importance of career-related learning in primary school (Education and Employers)

This article discusses why career-related learning matters for children, including its impact on tackling stereotypes and broadening career aspirations. It also shares hallmarks of success of career education in primary schools and activities for children.

5 ways to talk with young children about work and careers (CareerWise)

“Children are doing their best to understand and organize the world of work that they see, and at times that means they are forming ideas about who can and cannot do certain jobs based on identity characteristics such as gender, race and/or ethnicity,” write Kimberly Howard and Stephanie Dinius. They examine ways to talk about work with pre-school to early elementary-age children in ways that are developmentally appropriate and that support their early career-exploration efforts.


Note that some of the following may require a log-in or request for access to download.

CERIC literature searches
Social-emotional learning and career development in elementary settings (British Journal of Guidance and Counselling)

A holistic approach to youth development suggests that, given the interconnected nature of development in the domains of career development and social-emotional-learning (SEL), children and youth are better supported when education in both domains is provided in an integrated way. This paper integrates a model of SEL with models of childhood career development competencies and career-related reasoning.

What works? Career-related learning in primary schools (Education and Employers Research and The Careers & Enterprise Company)

This paper provides evidence of the benefits of career-related learning (CRL) for children in primary school, as well as on the effects of CRL on primary-aged children’s decisions, aspirations and attitudes. It maps key actions being taken by primary schools to support children’s transitions to secondary school and beyond.

Additional reading

This blog was originally published on CareerWise Nov. 26, 2018 and was last updated in September 2021. 

Did we miss something? Leave a comment below or send us a note at careerwise@ceric.ca if you have information that can help make our article even better.

Lindsay Purchase Administrator
Lindsay Purchase oversees CERIC’s tri-annual magazine, Careering, and the CareerWise website, along with the CareerWise Weekly newsletter. She has a background in journalism, having worked previously as a digital editor and reporter. Lindsay is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Global Studies program.
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Lindsay Purchase Administrator
Lindsay Purchase oversees CERIC’s tri-annual magazine, Careering, and the CareerWise website, along with the CareerWise Weekly newsletter. She has a background in journalism, having worked previously as a digital editor and reporter. Lindsay is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Global Studies program.
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