Thursday, July 5, 2012

How Do You Make Learning Fun? {The Answers!}

Last week I asked all my blog, Facebook and email friends to help me with ideas for making learning fun.  I had several people share their ideas with me and so I wanted to make them available to you!  I have grouped them in categories based on school subject or type of learning activity:
  • General Ideas,
  • Math,
  • Memorization,
  • Reading, 
  • Educational Games, Apps or Websites

General Ideas

  • Always be a little goofy and surprise the kids. If they never know what you will do, they stay interested. I would stand on a chair, talk in silly voices now and then, sometimes not talk at all and just use hand motions.  (HC)  This especially works for me when we have long read-alouds! (JG)
  • Try and make it as "real-life" as possible. Act out the stories or songs, when we study coins, I set up a "shop" full of their toys and they "buy" them, I have recently turned out basement into the desert for our science unit, we have acted out segments of history. The physical nature of all this also seems to help kids retain the learning a bit more too.  (HC)
Heather's Science Biome Activity!

  •  Working with a partner. Sometimes it is just more fun to work with a partner on a task. Whether it be something creative or even something "dry" such as measuring items around the house.  (HC)  Sometimes I am their partner - we "figure it out together" especially if it is working through a tough math problem or brainstorming ideas for pre-writing.  There is always less stress if Mom joins the ranks of learner with the kids!  (JG) 
  • Occasionally, when least expected, we "work" for treats. Usually I did this after a day when the class was just being blah and didn't seem to have their brains turned on. (HC)
  •  Have a guest teacher or co-teacher. Even letting a kids teach can often add a new dimension of fun to the classroom. (HC)  We had Grandpa in for a lesson one day, since he is a former NASA project manager!  (JG)
  • Change the learning environment - whether a field trip, just going outside, or just redecorating / moving furniture.  This can often inspire new ideas.  (HC)
  • Videos - I judiciously use video, since boys especially are captivated by images.  I don't let them watch the movie version of a book until they have read the book (or had it read to them.)  I don't substitute the video learning for the book, but after we have learned some about a concept, I will then reinforce what they've learned with a video (Discovery channel, BBC Earth, Bill Nye the Science Guy, History videos from  Sometimes the videos enhance their interest and cause them to go back to the books to learn more! (JG)
  • Family Vacation- We always make sure we hit an educational stop on our family vacation.  We love national parks and national monuments - the boys are accomplished Junior Rangers at quite a few destinations. (JG)
  • Kinesthetic Learners - Letting them bounce on an exercise ball while doing their work or reading or memorizing really helps.  Chewing gum is also a good thing to help those kids who hae to move, to focus (LH).


  • Facts practice:  Turn it into a game of around the world, or something of the sort.  A game where the more facts you know, the more moves or chances you get.  When we were introducing simple addition within 10, I put plates on the floor 0-10 and had my kids hop on them like frogs.  (i.e. - I told them to stand on 2 and asked how many till 10, they would hop 9 plates - we then said 2 + 8 = 10).  (HC) I have been teaching multiplication by making rows of little cars on the floor.  Ex:  3 rows of 4 cars each is 12.  I also have my son add up the scores to board games and card games (especially UNO) to teach math.  (PB)
  • Fractions:  Food!  Cookies, pizza, pie, amount of M&Ms etc.  Begin with the whole... what if we each get half, etc.  You can also use cardboard boxes (or carpet squares) as houses and divide up the "house: into frations according to "rooms".  (HC)
  • Measurement:  I have the kids measure things around the house  You can also do a scavenger hunt.  "Find the item in this room that weighs 2 pounds or is 3 inches long".  Cooking is great for measurement as well (cook something yummy they will want to eat).  If they are older, you can have them build something - build a birdouse that is 5 inches high and 6 inches long etc.  Obviously they will need help cutting etc.  But what a great example of what an actual builder does.  You can even introduce blueprints, CAD etc off this.  You can have them predict which is longer, weigs more etc.  or how many inches or pounds it is.  Closest prediction gets a prize.  (HC)
  • Word Problems:  I think if they can be acted out (at least some of them) it helps kids nderstand that word problems are real life math - not just something in a book that they hve to do.  Many times kinesthetic learners (like me) get lost in all the words.  The chance to act or draw out the problem not only makes it more fun but also makes it understandable for them. (HC)


  • Use music!  You can set almost anything to a familiar tune.  (We sing the presidents to the tune of Yankee Doodle.)  Lots of resources are available that set different facts to songs, from math facts to geography facts to bible verses.  (Check out my post on Seeds Family Worship for more on verse memorization.) (JG)
  • Rewards!  When we have pancakes, waffles, crepes or French toast for breakfast, I let our kids put whipped cream on top (out of the spray can).  If theycan recite a Bible verse (any verse, including the reference)  they can have a "dollop" directly in their mouths.  They LOVE it, and the small amount of sugar content is worth hearing them BEG to recite verses many mornings, sometimes several verses at a time! (SE)
  • Motions!  We like to make up motions to anything we are tryng to memorize.  (SP)


  • I motivate my boys to read by reading aloud to them to stir their interest in a new author or series or subject.  I wrote more on this here.  (JG)
  • Mine are too young to read on their own.  I have seen people do sticker charts for each book and then get a reward after so many books read.  Theme units can be fun too.  Find books on a topic the kids may be interested in (country, aimal, sport, time period etc) and study it - nothing intense.  You can add any related art, music, dress, games, food or other projects (paper mache etc. ) to it to help make it fun.  Sometimes even "sharing" reading.  You read a page to them, they read a page to you under a tree, tent or in a hammock can be fun. (HC)
  • I have recently decided that it's completely okay for some of their reading time to be books tat are WAY too easy for them.  Sometimes letting them just revisit the easy stuff below their level gives them a boost of confidence and not everything has to be a challenge every time.  So, my idea here is just to simply back off and let them take a few steps back every once in a while!  (Can you imagine?)  (SE)

Educational Games, Apps or Websites

  • Jeopardy - Our kids LOVE to watch Jeopardy on TV.  Seriously.  I have to create this game myself but I like to write out questions to review content we have learned during the year, or during a particular unit.  We did a World War II jeopardy game and I was really surprised at how much they remembered.  We also did one as an end of the year wrap-up and celebration.  It was fun to see everything we had covered!  (JG)
  • Math -
  • Spelling- ipad app called "Spelling Test".  We load each girls spelling list into the app.  It speaks the word to them and they have to spell it corretly.  It keeps track for me too. (SP)
  • Geography - iPad app called "Stack the States", has interactive maps and interactive stories. 
  • Reading -
  • Vocabulary - - You can input your word list and play games.
  • General -
  • Board Games -  The Scrambled States of America, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Cash Flow, Set (card game), GeoPuzzles... 

What other ideas do you have to add to our list?  Add your ideas to the comments section!  I'm hoping this will be great inspiration for adding creativity to the upcoming school year!

**Thanks to Heather (HC), Sarah (SP), Sue (SE), Patty (PB), and Lara (LH) for sending ideas for this post. 

No comments:

Post a Comment