Many children often find it difficult to stay attentive during their classes. Parents are often left wondering the reason behind their child’s lack of attention in class. In some cases, this behaviour could be due to a learning difficulty such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – a condition in which a child displays inattention, distractibility, and poor working memory.
However, the classrooms themselves are often the reasons why the children get distracted. Classrooms usually contain distractions, ranging from chatty classmates, disorganized spaces, and unnecessary movement. Children’s learning environment is also one reason for the lack of attention; therefore, teachers could always organize fun activities that get them engaged again. We will look at 10 activities and ideas that teachers can use to make learning fun for kids.
Including games as instructional tools provide an interactive and collaborative classroom experience for students. Games help increase participation, foster social and emotional learning, and encourage students to take risks. Children can also learn essential skills through games, such as critical thinking skills, creativity, teamwork, and sportsmanship.
In a recent study, researchers developed a video game designed with multitasking challenges adapted to their skillsets. The data showed that children who played this game had significant improvements in their attention scores. This study also included children with ADHD and proved that games were relevant to improving attention irrespective of pre-existing conditions
During this pandemic, you can include interactive and remote video games into your lessons to help your students. Video games such as Minecraft, Werewolf, and virtual escape rooms are good options to engage your classroom.
Include Classroom Physical Activity
Physical activities in classrooms also help keep students focused. These can take place at any time and during brief periods during the school day. Classroom physical activities are beneficial by improving concentration, motivation, and engagement in the learning process. It also reduces disruptive and distracting behavior such as fidgeting and limits sedentary time among students, hence boosting academic performance.
While including classroom physical activity, teachers should ensure they don’t replace physical education and recess with classroom physical activity. Instead, these activities should be integrated into planned academic instruction to reinforce theoretical concepts and skills learned in physical education.
The current online setting poses a challenge towards including classroom physical activity in virtual classrooms. However, students can continue to engage in some form of activity from the comfort of their homes. Providing physical activity promotes social, emotional health by increasing motivation and enjoyment of learning while reducing stress, anxiety, and social isolation brought about by COVID-19.
Hands-on learning is an instruction method that guides students to gain knowledge on various subjects by experience. Students are allowed to engage with and manipulate the objects they are studying. Hands-on learning also helps them focus better, remember the material they are studying, and transfer the learning experience to learning scenarios.
Hands-on learning provides a trial-and-error method for students to grasp concepts while learning from their mistakes and understanding the gaps between theory and practice. This method of instruction opens up a better opportunity for long-term retention and memory as students engage with objects and get firsthand experience with what they are learning. Teachers also get the opportunity to enrich the minds of their students through new and engaging ways.
Several instructors have adapted their hands-on lessons to the online classroom setting. For example, simulated lab technologies help students engage in science experiments from the comfort of their homes. Other instructors teach art through Zoom while giving live sessions to their students. In these cases, the students were still able to focus and stay engaged with the experience.
Creative classrooms provide an innovative way for students to acquire knowledge by deepening their understanding of concepts and promoting engagement. Including creative activities such as storytelling and skits help children learn without giving any boundaries to their way of thinking. Letting students express their thoughts triggers emotional development, so they learn to respond well to the happenings around them.
To develop a safe classroom that promotes creativity, instructors must create an accepting environment so children know they can make mistakes. Students are often unaware of their creativity; hence you should provide them with feedback to encourage them. You should also encourage autonomy and give feedback that encourages self-assessment and independence.
As an instructor, you must show creativity on your side to beget this virtue on your students. You should model creative ways of thinking, playfully engage with content, and express your ideas. Activities such as doodling, playing musical instruments, knitting, and painting encourage a creative environment within your classroom.
Using Technology in the Classroom
Technology devices such as computers, tablets, and laptops can be integrated into the learning process to make the experience fun and engaging. While engaging with technology in the early stages of learning, children also become prepared for the current hi-tech society.
Several technology-based tasks involve collaboration and encourage students to seek help from their peers and teachers. Teachers also become more connected with their students as they try to find content that engages their students. They also expand their knowledge on the subject matter, making a significant difference to the learning experience.
Students and teachers can use programs such as PowerPoint, Publisher, HyperStudio, and Inspiration to help them with organizing and presenting the information. Other programs such as Decisions, Decisions, the Encarta Multimedia Encyclopedia, Jasper, and MathBlasters promote problem-solving, provide information, and stimulate discussions in the classroom.
Incorporating Hobbies into the Classroom
Focusing on your students’ interests makes it easier to engage in a lesson and gets them excited about the concepts. You can take time to find out your students’ hobbies and passions and figure out a way to integrate these into your lesson plans. Also, give them the freedom to choose what topics and material they want. Giving children the power to choose helps them become engaged and develops their decision-making skills as they become responsible for what the classroom will do next.
You can also include your own hobbies in the learning experience. Sharing your interest with your students makes them curious to find out how you found your hobby. This experience lets them learn how to develop a healthy hobby from an activity they didn’t pay attention to.
Sharing hobbies also builds stronger relationships in the classroom. Students can easily connect with their peers and teachers if they find out they have similar interests. Expressing your interests reveals to them the more personal side of you beyond being their instructor. Your students will be more likely to pay attention to your lessons if they can connect with you on a personal level.
Including Peer-to-Peer Teaching
Peer-to-peer teaching is an effective method of knowledge transfer as it motivates students to study the material more thoroughly. Students share similar experiences and understand the day-to-day challenges they face better than any instructor could. They quickly become receptive to concepts taught by someone they have a better connection with.
This teaching method also boosts confidence in your students as they realize the teacher and their peers trust them to share their knowledge. While presenting their topic, students also develop their communication skills as they present their ideas and listen to feedback. Teachers can also use this opportunity to assess their students’ understanding of a concept based on their ability to share their knowledge with their peers.
To provide a peer-to-peer teaching session, you can begin by assigning topics to each student and ask them to prepare a lesson on the subject. Once the students are aware of their topics, divide them into groups and encourage them to rely on each other to solve any problems they encounter. You should partner struggling students with their peers who better understand the topic to work together. When the students are ready with their topic, you can schedule a time for them to present their ideas.
Incorporate Mystery into Your Lessons
Adding mysteries into your lessons is an excellent way to pique curiosity, activate listening, and create a want-to-know feeling. The use of mysteries develops an inquiry-based learning experience in which students construct their own understanding based on previous knowledge and experience. This learning method is both hands-on and minds-on as they understand by reflecting on their experiences, communicating their thinking, and making connections between the real world and what they learned.
You can begin your mystery-based lesson with a story that invites students to follow along while building anticipation and suspense. The story should include action, visualization, and emotion, thus enticing your students into the narrative through empathy. Leave strategic blanks in the story for the students to fill in, with enough clues to bridge those gaps.
Using this method of teaching gradually releases the learning responsibility from the teacher to the students. Students become more curious and motivated to carry out an independent inquiry into the mystery. The teacher thus becomes a less instructive and flexible facilitator.
Take the Learning Experience Outdoors
Learning outdoors has been proven to increase student’s physical, mental, and social health. Kids across age groups naturally need to move around, and there is evidence that access to nature helps decrease symptoms of ADHD. Outdoor learning experiences develop a sense of civic attitudes among students as they better understand their natural and human communities.
Spending time outdoors also opens up students’ minds to fresh stimuli, helping them make better connections to learning and improving their memory and imagination. These positive aspects result in an improved attitude towards school, better in-school behavior, and an overall increase in performance.
Teachers can use outdoor spaces such as lawns and amphitheaters to organize a few learning sessions. Students can also participate in outdoor activities such as physical education, gymnastics, swimming, and sports to change their environment from the regular classroom space.
- Organize Field Trips
Field trips are some of the best tools to provide students with a real-world learning experience. During these trips, students see the connection between what they learn at school and the real world. They also get access to tools and environments that are not available at school, reinforcing their learning of important academic concepts.
Taking your students on field trips also teaches them about local culture. They get firsthand experience that enriches their perspective and expands their worldviews. The overall experience also encourages students to learn as they visually grab concepts and actively partake in the experience.
Fun learning experiences are usually aimed at improving attention in students and engaging them with the concepts. These activities are beneficial for both the kids and the teachers as both groups get to understand each other better through active participation and communication. Classrooms that implement fun learning activities demonstrate productivity and increased performance.