Let’s face it: some lessons are just not going to be interesting. They’re practical. They’re 100% necessary. But they’re duller than an unsharpened pencil.
It’s easy to teach grade-school-aged kids lessons in science where you get to sprout seeds, watch a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, or flashy chemical reactions. It’s easy to get them into reading with an engaging story and fun accompanying lessons that raise lively discussions. Getting them to enjoy things like fractions, multiplication, or rote memorization of dates and places is much harder.
Here are a few things you can incorporate into your most boring lessons to help recapture their attention, and to make the most tedious lessons a bit more interesting to your kids:
- Add Music
It’s simple, but incredibly effective. Put on the radio while the kids work quietly. It’ll help improve their focus, and add rhythm to otherwise mind-numbing and repetitive tasks like copying spelling words or number problems.
The element of rhythm can help in tasks like memorizing prime numbers or learning to work with money, where you already have a sense of rhythm in the math. Music can also help kinetic learners connect to the material when they have something to move along to. Tapping their foot along to the music can boost their concentration, and help them remember otherwise boring information.
- Introduce Physical Objects
Whenever possible, add physical objects to an abstract subject matter in order to bring it to a real-world tangibility, as well as to capture their senses and attention. For example, if you’re working on measurements, give the kids tape measures and have them measure objects around the classroom.
If you’re working on measuring weights or liquid volumes, bring in cups and pour out various things that they can actually drink. (Just beware of spills!) Have them weigh out how much Kool Aid is in a cup, measure the circumference of the cup itself, or figure out the ratio of water to powdered Kool Aid mix used.
Physical objects that engage the kids’ sense can be incorporated into any lesson. If you’re learning about pioneer America, bake biscuits for them to munch while you talk, or bring in examples of pioneer toys or clothing for the kids to inspect. If you’re learning about different biomes, bring in something to represent each different area. It’ll stand out in the kids’ memories when it comes time to take a test!
- Put Skills to Practical (and Fun) Use
Math and money-management can be intensely boring for most kids, but there are plenty of ways to make it more fun while giving them good real-world practice. Give them a responsibility and have them plan a class party.
Each student can take on a different role in the party-planning process, and they’ll have to create a budget for their supplies. There are many ways to apply math to real-world principles that will actually stick with them far more than boring math worksheets.
If they’re studying basic algebra, add food. (When in doubt, always add food!) Have them create and solve word problems based on those edible objects.