Saturday, February 13, 2016

Putting the Fun Back In Teaching: 11 Easy Ways

Are you in that middle of the school year rut?
You know... the "I'm tired, they're tired, everybody's tired" 
"If I have to do indoor recess one more time...."

Well I've compiled a list of easy ways that ensure I'm still bringing the funk I mean fun!

Take brain breaks.  
It's okay every once in a while to stop between lessons and take a moment to just relax.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy, even just doing a couple stretches and running in place will do wonders. 

Want a structure and source of kid tested and teacher approved brain breaks?  Check out GoNoodle.  My kids are OBSESSED with almost every video.  
Every student has their favorite one...  
Mine happens to be anything with Koo Kangaroo!  

Make lessons memorable!
I had some wonderful teachers who inspired me to be a better learner and eventually to become a teacher.  Be that educator for your students!  Bring the lesson to them.  Make it fun and engaging.  Recently I had my students write friendly letters to their favorite Disney characters as their final draft for letter writing.   Imagine their surprise when they got a signed letter back in return!!!!!   

Bring Back the Read Alouds and Self Chosen Reading Time
My favorite time as a kid was choosing and reading my favorite books 
or hearing my teacher read aloud a classic story that was new to me.
Bring that passion for reading back to your room.  
Choose some of your most favorite books in your room.  
Read it aloud with the passion you had the first time you read it.  
Choose a series and read the first book... and then watch them fly off the shelves!
I dedicate 15 mins daily in my room for DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) Time.  
I make it engaging and fun with little tricks like Glow in the Dark Reading. 

Working With Partners Can Be Fun Too
Every student loves to hear: "Work with a partner!" and some teachers dread saying it.
I take the worry out of it by changing up the partnering in quick and easy ways.  
Finger Learning Scale:  Have students identify their understanding of the topic and pair them based on mastery.  
You can also use Dollar Store purchases to help with partnering.

"Choose your ______ & __________ partner."
Milk & Cookies partner= High and Low
Mouse & Cheese= Random Selection

Student Choice Seating
Bean bags, bath rugs, Hot Spots, and Cushions are all great choices.
 When you get to work time in your room let your class choose "good for me" spaces to work.  You'd be surprised at the engagement you'll see from your students.

Go Outside!
(Within Reason)
My favorite time of the year is the beginning and the end.  
The weather is perfect and the kids are rambunctious and need the space to move!  
Use a kickball and play multiplication ball.  
Grab the school jump ropes and have your kids jump to the linking and helping verbs chants. 
Take sidewalk chalk and have your kids practice subtraction by hopping backwards with the number line. 

Dress Up Your Room and Yourself
This is the room you spend 8+ hrs a day.  Make it a place that you and the class feel at home.  Make that library cozy.  Hang things from the ceiling.  Open up the blinds and let the sunshine in.  
Put up their work.  Especially hang those anchor charts!  
Look at the smiles at my minions during my last Valentine's Day Party.
You can also use your room to make learning come alive!  
If you're learning about problem and solution do a week long mystery theme.  
Put down footprints and give them "case file folders" to work from.  
Dress yourself up with a trench coat.
Or maybe you're doing a space unit.  Decorate the ceiling with stars and dress up like an astronaut. 

Think Outside of The Box
This is the catch all category!  If you are always using the workbook or basal things get boring!  
Bring out the dice and have it dictate what word problem you'll do next.
Have them type their spelling words on old computer keyboards!
When your students meet expectations celebrate it with a 10 second cheer or class wave.
Have  competition between the girls and boys for who can pass the papers back faster.  
Make up a song for your class to get pumped to! Most of these cost little to nothing to you and bring back tons of fun!


Enjoy the seasons, milestones, and holidays with your kids.  
Remember all those magical moments you had as a kid?  
You know, like a visit from the tooth fairy or the beauty of a snowy day?
Help make your students have those special memories with you.  
Get excited with them when these events pop up.  Use them to your advantage!  
If it's Thanksgiving or Easter hide problems or task cards in eggs around the room. 
 If it's Earth Day take your kids out and have them clean around the school and/or community.  I always decorate my room based on the holidays. I play Christmas Music for my kids work time.

Let Them Be Little
With all the testing, standards, assessments, etc. it's so easy to get caught up in the HAVE TO's.  
I'm guilty of this too!
We may be molding the next generation of scientists, artists, leaders... 
But that next generation are still kids now.  
Let them be little.  Let them color.  Let them read.  Let them giggle and talk.  
Let them enjoy being kids now.  


  1. What a fabulous post! I need to write some Donors Choose proposals so I can offer my students choice seating. So many great things to try! Im going to implement the glow in the dark reading. My SPED students will love that!

  2. YES! Let them be little is my favorite. We need to allow fun and play into the classroom. So many teachers were complaining about Valentine exchanges yesterday but not me. I remember what a big deal it was and how fun it was when I was in elementary school. Teachers need to remember that kids are still kids!

  3. I love this! Such a perfect post for this time of year :)