By Teachers, For Teachers
We have all been a student at one point in our lives, and we all know that school is not always fun. However, with today’s technology, it doesn’t have to be boring! It is an exciting time in education. We have new tools at our fingertips that make learning and classroom activities so much better than ever before. From iPads to video conferencing someone from across the globe, we have the opportunity to use classroom activities to give our students a learning experience of a lifetime.
But technology isn’t the only way that we can make learning fun for our students. With new, groundbreaking studies published almost every day, we have learned that differentiating learning can make a huge impact on how our students learn. Project-based learning and the flipped classroom are other new approaches to learning that have changed the way teachers teach and learners learn. Here are a few more classroom activities that you can do to boost the fun factor and keep students engaged.
What child doesn’t like to conduct an experiment? All children love to get their hands into something, because it’s fun. Science experiments are not only fun, but they are a great way to keep students engaged in what they are learning. Choose a simple experiment where students can work on their own or with a partner. Science Kids has a variety of great experiments for kids from blowing up balloons with CO2 and making quicksand to creating a tornado or floating eggs. There is something fun for everyone.
Anything that involves movement will make learning more fun in your classroom. When you are sitting at your seat all day long, it can be extremely boring. Get your students on their feet by incorporating movement into your lessons. Try giving students a few brain breaks throughout the day that make them get out of their seats. Have students do a few yoga poses, play follow the leader, or for younger students, put on some music and have students get their wiggles out. As long as students are moving, then they will be having fun.
Task cards are a great way to boost the fun factor in your classroom. You can use them to review or to reinforce a concept that was just taught. Try playing traveling task cards, where students move about the room as they answer questions. To play, hand a task card to each student and have them read it silently to themselves. Then on your command of “Go,” have students walk to a designed answer station in the classroom to trade cards with a fellow student to see if they agree with their answer (designate a different section of the room for each answer choice and place a sign there as a reminder, this will be the answer stations). The excitement of the game will make review time so much fun that students will forget they are even learning.
Anytime you turn anything into a game it is instantly more fun. Take a boring worksheet. If it has ten questions on it, just cut it up into strips and turn it into a game. All you have to do is divide students into small groups of five and assign each person a specific role. Student one would read the question on their slip of paper to their group, then student two would paraphrase the question and student three would answer the question. Student four would then agree or disagree with the answer, and student five’s job would be to place his or her strip of paper into the “Agree or disagree” pile. Something as simple as cutting up a worksheet and making it into a fun activity can change the fun factor in a matter of minutes.
Just like conducting experiments is fun, hands-on learning is another great way to make learning fun. Anytime you can take a lesson that makes students use their fine motor skills and explores their senses, you have created a fun opportunity for children. When you think of hands-on learning, you are probably thinking of your students using their hands to conduct an experiment or manipulate a math problem. However, it doesn’t have to be limited to just that. Hands-on learning can refer to anything that requires your students to use their hands to learn. For example, if your students were learning about wildlife habitats, then they can use their hands to create a model of a habitat or sort related vocabulary words onto a graphic organizer. As long as they are using their hands to manipulate and learn, it will be more fun than using a pencil on a worksheet.
Children learn best when the lesson or activity is enjoyable. As long as they are engaged and having fun, then they will be learning. If the content that you are teaching them is too challenging and not fun, then your students will not be engaged and therefore will not retain the information.
What’s your secret to boosting the fun factor in your classroom? Do you have any ideas or activities that work well for your students?
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and Graduateprogram.org. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.