Make Learning More Fun
Yesterday on our K12 Facebook, a parent shared this really fun picture of her kids playing in a train created using the K12 materials boxes. Those kids look like they are having the time of their lives – using their creativity and imagination! I too have memories of using my parent's large appliance boxes for a bunch of different uses, including a fort, train and barrier wall when I was growing up.
Why Should Learning Be Fun?
When we strive to make learning fun, kids are excited to learn. But excitement is not the only benefit they derive. There is quite a bit of research available that points to fun being a critical element in the process of authentic learning and long-term memory.
“Brain research suggests that fun is not just beneficial to learning but, by many reports, required for authentic learning and long-term memory.
Neurologist and educator Judy Willis’s book “Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher” (ASCD, 2006) is one of many that have highlighted the learning benefits of fun. Here are just a few excerpts:
The truth is that when the joy and comfort are scrubbed from the classroom and replaced with homogeneity, and when spontaneity is replaced with conformity, students’ brains are distanced from effective information processing and long-term memory storage.
The highest-level executive thinking, making of connections, and “aha” moments are more likely to occur in an atmosphere of “exuberant discovery,” where students of all ages retain that kindergarten enthusiasm of embracing each day with the joy of learning.
So fun actually seems to promote learning. It increases dopamine, endorphins, and oxygen! “
Making learning fun – is it easier said than done?
Remember, we are dealing with kids here. What we define as ‘fun’ as adults, does not match up to what the younger set’s expectations for the most part. As you can see from the shared picture, those kids are having what can be considered some real, honest fun. (Notice the absence of fancy apps, gadgets or electronics)
And lucky for us parents, there are a ton of sites offering practical ideas to infuse fun elements into learning.
- Pinterest: Keeping Learning Fun – this is just one of many digital bulletin boards sharing fun ideas, including song lists, reward ideas and activities.
- Mobile and Tablets: Learning Apps are everywhere! They are a great enrichment tool that can be used to help kids learn new concepts in an interactive, creative way.
- Play Time: Kids love to move and show off their endless supply of energy. Use this to your advantage and lead your children on 10-minute nature walk or play a quick game of football. There are skills to be learned no matter the sport or activity.
And as an added bonus, research has shown that the more active the kid, the better they do academically. So, you are killing more than two birds with one stone!
There are also many sites that focus on making learning fun for children with disabilities.
- Making Learning Fun for Autistic Children – This site offers advice about approaches to help enrich teaching methods
- Making Learning Fun: Working with Disabilities – Resources on how to modify certain activities to accommodate children who have physical disabilities.
- Five Ideas for Teaching Social Studies to Students with ADHD – Great ideas include role playing, using flash cards and game playing.