How do you feel about going back to school after a long holiday break?
If it makes you tired even to think about books and homework assignments, imagine how your students feel!
I understand. Most of us truly desire to be productive–to do things that really matter. But we also love to have fun, don’t we?
This is also true of children.
Children love to play and have fun, but they also enjoy working on projects that matter.Children love to play and have fun, but they also enjoy working on projects that matter. Click To Tweet
If you are resolved to make this semester not only “un-boring” but memorable, resolve to include more projects that matter and focus on fun as often as possible. Doing that doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just start by aiming to make one memory each week.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Once each week take time to explain to your children how you use a skill they’re studying in your everyday life OR let them brainstorm with you about why they think the skill matters. (It’s okay if the conversation get a little silly.)
If your children are learning to add fractions, tell them about a time you had to double a recipe to feed a crowd. If they’re struggling with a spelling word or a grammar rule, maybe they’d like to hear about a word or rule that gives you trouble and the tricks you use to help yourself remember. (“Separate” always gives me trouble because it has “a rat” in the middle.) I even used a bit of calculus once to figure out how many strings of lights to buy to decorate a large Christmas tree. (Used a formula designed for figuring the thread length around a conical screw.)
If you’re looking for an everyday activity that requires factoring polynomial equations and graphing their roots, though, you’re on your own! (Suggestions welcome in the comments section!)
Make it a goal to “teach to all five senses” at least once every week.
Sight and hearing are pretty easy squares to fill, but try to think of ways to make things interesting. How about a nature hike or a trip to a zoo or museum? If you’re studying a particular period of history–the American Revolution, for example–what sort of music was popular at that time?
Touch, smell, and taste are more challenging, but you’ll be surprised how many opportunities you’ll find to point them out once you start looking for them.
Feel the difference in sandstone (a sedimentary rock) and obsidian (a type of rock that has been melted by fire), or the difference between glassy obsidian and rough pumice–both igneous (fire-made) rocks. What makes the difference in their textures?
Smells abound in homemaking, gardening, and chemistry but also in geography and biology. Mountain air smells different than ocean breezes. West Texas oil wells smell different than urban New York streets. And did you know that many diseases have a characteristic odor?
Experiencing new tastes may be the most fun of all. Can you wrap up your study of a geographical region by cooking a traditional meal? Experiment with new healthy recipes as you study health and fitness, or celebrate a finished novel or historical study by preparing a related meal. One of my favorite children’s books is George Washington’s Breakfast by Jean Fritz. If you need a ready idea, start here!
At least once each week, close the textbooks and get out of the classroom.
Whatever you’re studying, ask yourself, “Where do people do that?” or “Where can we see one of those?” Then take time for a field trip. It doesn’t have to be long to be entertaining. Even a trip to the grocery store is fun if we’re buying the ingredients for a special meal or finding materials to dissect for biology. (Our grocery sells liver, kidneys, hearts, tongue, brains, intestines (tripe), octopus, lobster, shrimp, shellfish, and all manner of fish, doesn’t yours?) Longer trips to museums, zoos, galleries, theaters, or your state legislature might be possible, but even in your own town people make their livings doing amazing things.
Your children will learn to look for interesting things right under their own noses. 🙂
The purpose of school is to prepare us for life, right? Learning is much more meaningful, memorable, and fun when we actually go and do things!
You don’t have to do it all. It doesn’t even matter where you start. Just set a goal to add at least one fun activity each week, and watch your children begin to love learning.