Over all my years of teaching (3 years in a public school classroom, 2 years teaching English overseas, and now in my 3rd year of homeschooling my own kids) I have found that there is one common thing that helps all students stay engaged and ultimately succeed:
Making. Learning. Fun.
With all the "standards" and "tests" that we as teachers are pressured with, I think it's so important to not transfer those pressures onto the students. Little ones don't need that stress in their lives! I believe we can have fun AND teach our students what they need to know. All it takes is a little creativity, preparation, and a whole lot of Pinterest :-)
Here are a few ideas of ways I've found to take important skills that need to be taught and turn them into a fun game or activity that your kids might not even realize is educational.
1. Turn review into a game. Most kids love competition, so a fun way to review any subject, is with a game! My favorite is a kind of Jeopardy style set up, with categories and points.
I write out something like this on the white board and have a corresponding list of questions that I've made for myself. Divide the class into 2 teams and they take turns picking a question. If they get it right, they get that many points. Then I erase the one they picked off the board and the next team picks! I love this game because it is so versatile! Your categories and questions can be math problems, vocabulary, true/false, multiple choice, spelling words, or anything else you want!
2. Other games we like to play are sports games. For example, to practice spelling words, we play "Spelling Shoot Out." I say a word aloud, and if the student can spell it correctly, they get one point for their team. Then they shoot a ball into a basket and if they make it, they get an extra point. This is also such a versatile game that can be used with any subject!
3. Make learning hands-on as much as you can! Find ways to incorporate manipulatives like dice, dominos, popsicle sticks, cards, blocks, or even candy on special occasions.
|Candy Corn - Sort & Tally Freebie|
|Playing games like "War" is great for helping kids with greater than, less than, and equal!|
|Skip counting with popsicle sticks|
|Lego word family sorting idea by The Reading Mama.|
You could also use this for spelling out words or alphabetizing.
Dot Marker Mystery Pictures - This is a sample of an Alphabet Dot Marker Picture, Number Dot Marker Picture, and Sight Words Dot Marker Picture. (PreK-1st)
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