Friday, October 24, 2014

Experience Educational Excitement: Ten Ways to Make Learning Fun and Memorable

Everyone knows that learners of all ages learn more and retain more when they enjoy the experience.  Here are ten ways to make learning come alive.

1) Go on a relevant field trip.  |

Whenever I'm planning a history or literature unit, I hunt for relevant field trips to add to my lesson plans.  I think beyond the obvious to widen my search when necessary.  I don't always find something, and I don't always have time to hit every field trip that I'd like to take, but just the search ensures that we get out and have more interesting experiences.

2) See a play.

Many community theaters offer inexpensive ways to enjoy their plays.  In the past, we've enjoyed many plays from one theater that offered a sneak preview during their final dress rehearsal; admission was pay what you can.  Another theater that we have enjoyed had one $5 "Thrifty Thursday" for each of their plays.  High school theater classes often have public showings and can be reasonably priced as well.  Sometimes you can even find a play that ties into a history topic or novel that you are covering in the current school year.  If not, enjoying a play still fits under the subject of fine arts appreciation.  Have your students write a critique, and it becomes an English assignment as well.

3) Make some art.

Scour art teacher blogs and Pinterest for projects that can tie in with time periods or geographical areas that you are studying.  Search for projects based on a novel that you are reading.  You can almost always find something that fits.  Art Projects For Kids is one of my favorite art teacher blogs.

4) Play some games.  

It's pretty easy to find games that work on almost any skill you are working on.

5) Build a diorama.

Pretty much every historical concept or novel can be used to build a diorama.  As part of the process, have your student research the time period to make the diorama more realistic.  If based on a novel, the project becomes English, history, and art all rolled into one.  Here's a literary diorama my daughter made a couple of years ago for our library's peeps diorama contest.

6) Utilize mainstream movies.  

Yes, I know most mainstream movies have elements that aren't accurate, but nothing helps a student understand better than a good visual.  Afterwards, you can talk about what was realistic and what artistic licenses were taken by the director.   This website has lesson plans for just about every history period and location you could want.

7) Add some music.

See if you can find period music to go with your history students or literature.   Enjoy a concert or two.  Learn about the time period or location in which the genre of music became popular.  Do a biography of a famous musician that utilized the genre you heard.

8) Volunteer.

Add community service to your school year.  Is there an assisted living center, food bank, homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or humane society you can help out for an afternoon?  Nothing teaches social studies better than helping people in need in your community.

9) Give them a choice in how to present their research.

Would your student enjoy making a short movie?  A news show?  A computer game? A board game? Sewing a costume?  Designing a map? Putting together a tri-fold board? Writing a short picture book?  Not every research project needs to enjoy in a paper.

10) Design or replicate a science experiment.

What was discovered during the historical period you are studying?  Can you design a corresponding science experiment?  Need a biography to add to your literature studies?  How about choosing a scientist and trying out a related experiment?  If you have older kids, have them show the younger kids some kitchen science experiments? In my home, my littles often watch and/or participate in the labs the bigs are doing.  Sometimes I run into a fun experiment for the littles that we didn't do with the bigs, so they take a few moments to join us.  I'm using this book with my littles this year, along with other experiments I find online.

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