I was researching how to have fun in the classroom and was unimpressed with the advice on how to have fun teaching- “include technology” and “relate the classwork to the kid’s lives”. Too basic and unhelpful.
I want to share specific ways that kids can have fun while in your classroom. Here we go.
Walking up front music
This is my favorite! On the days that students were presenting projects, I was falling asleep. That long awkward pause while students are walking up front and getting set up, I am playing epic theme songs! It is so much fun. Imperial march from Star Wars, The Final Countdown… it is a blast. I made a playlist but the songs are copyright and often removed. You can still get ideas from it!
Start class with fun videos
I hand out name cards at the beginning of each class. It takes a few minutes. During that time, I had folders of fun video clips and pictures that we could talk about together while I greeted everyone. Since then, I’ve made them into two-minute countdowns. Even starting class with a single fun video or discussion starter is better than nothing. See my posts with these fun class starters.
See my playlist of videos on YouTube
Have silly seating options
Kids love an old recliner, tall stool, or anything different to sit on. Let them sit on an old exercise bike or behind a huge table. There is no law that kids must be seated at orderly desks.
Make spur of the moment changes
Cancel the thing that kids are dreading. Leave class early to pop outside before the next class. Run the long way around the school instead of walking the short way. Have a paper fight when the recycle bin gets full.
See your room for what it is – boring
Our classrooms are a serious bore. Not a lot of fun teaching can happen in a bare room. A few motivated students with permission and butcher paper can fix that. LEDs can really make an area pop. Have windows? Chalk markers make them into huge canvases!
Go way over the top with stories
It can be so much fun to tell stories from your past. I have a few favorites that are more and more fun to tell.
Have students teach you
I ask my students to choose something to teach me – it can be a game, dance, terminology. Be open and laugh at yourself as you connect with your students.
Go places and burn energy
Most schools have something near them – a park, stream, forest, prairie, something. Five minutes of walking does not take as much of your class period as you imagine it does. I found the stress levels of the whole class decreasing as we travelled to new locations and it is always fun teaching on the fly.
Show off stuff that impresses you
Hey, check this out! If you think it is cool, share it! At worst you’ll look like a dork. You don’t know how your sharing will stick with a kid and just how far a little bit of information about yourself will stick with your kiddos. Fun teachers have a lot of interests that they share.
Loud music at the end of class
Getting decent speakers in your classroom is worth it, if only for the times you are in there by yourself. Kids are used to hearing music out of tiny speakers or TVs that a decent speaker is very impressive. In my opinion, there is too little music at school and it falls to the fun teachers to fix that.
Enjoy yourself as you have fun teaching
This is the most important one. Try to-do one silly thing per day. Since you read this far, you must be serious about becoming a less boring teacher … and the world needs less boring teachers. Try some of these ideas and lean into the ones that make you happy. If you are enjoying yourself, your kids will too.
Adjust after your first attempts
As you build, you will probably think of improvements to make or ways to make your project better. You may even decide to start over with a better idea. Most projects need several changes before they are finished!
Useful links for teachers:
This site holds the resources for Innovative Arts class, a class that replaced our technology class in our middle school. Students learn to create as engineers, designers, and more. At the same time, we are learning about our brains/mindsets (‘Puzzle‘), engage technology (‘Shift‘) and the creative process (‘Create‘).