Monday, June 19, 2017

5 Ways to Bring More FUN into Your Classroom

I thought it would never happen to me...until it did...

I lost my FUN!

I've always been a fun pre k teacher...silly, rambunctious, funny, and playful.  This year though, after a particularly difficult morning preschool 3-4's class, I was exhausted and burnt out.  I felt like I had nothing left for my afternoon pre k class!

So I asked myself..."What did I do to make class fun before the difficult mornings?"  I needed a refresher, so I gave it some serious thought.  It was tough at first, but I think it all came back to me in the relaxation of summer break...

1.  Sing Silly and/or Fun Songs

Be armed and ready with 4-5 funny crowd-pleasing songs that you can ham up or be really dramatic with the kids!  There's nothing like a shared song or experience to bring a class together, lessen tensions, and turn a bad mood to good!  Some of my favorites are "Little Bunny Foo-Foo", "5 Little Monkeys Swing'n in the Trees", "There's a Spider on the Floor", or "Patalina Matalina".  There are so many more...just pick your favorites, add some actions, expression, or your own dance moves and belt it out during circle time or any time you want!

2.  Have an Impromptu Dance Party

I have a little bluetooth speaker and an iPad with the Pandora Radio app installed in my classroom.  Whenever we need a little controlled fun, we crank up Disney radio, or the Kids Bop station and just DANCE!  This can get a little out of control, so I usually preface each dance party with instructions such as, "keep your hands to yourself", no "feet over heads", and "watch where you are dancing"!  I get out there and dance right along with them!  It makes me feel good, the kids feel good, and once again...it's a shared fun experience that brings us closer and actually helps with discipline issues...try it!

3.  Read with LOTS of Expression!

My class LOVES Elephant and Piggie books...I think they love them so much because when I read them...it's no-holds-barred performance art!  I get so into the voices and inflection...Mo Willems pictures are perfect for giving the reader clear cues on exactly how the character are feeling.  I decided on one particularly rough day with my morning class to read a different story the same way I would read an Elephant and Piggie book, just to see if the performance was key...wow!  The Three Little Pigs drew them in and captured their attention like nothing I had ever read before.  The book ended with shouts of "Again! Again!"...which told me I was on to something.  Funny thing is...my mood changed and I couldn't wait to read another story.  Of course I don't read ALL stories with that much inflection and drama...you have to keep it special!

4.  Depart From Your Plan

I make very detailed lesson plans, create most of my own curriculum, and have a very involved principal, so my lesson plans are thorough and I am expected to teach to my plan.  But...there are days when I look at what I have planned for the day and I just know I'm going to be phoning it in if I follow it...so I use my imagination and find something active or interesting to do for part or all of our day instead!  I keep a lot of supplies on hand for science projects and experiments, I have a lot of free art ideas rolling around in my head that I try, or I make something else up on the fly...some of my best ideas come from 'winging' it!  I usually come away feeling inspired, and the kids usually have a fun time with the activities I come up with...they didn't know what I had planned, so they don't have a clue!

5.  Stop trying so hard to be the best teacher in the world and just have FUN playing with the kids!

I saved the most important for last.  There are some days I let myself off the hook and turn center time into more of a 'play' time.  Play is the way young children learn, and they are so thrilled to have me as a customer in the restaurant in the dramatic play area, or if I help build the tower at the block center, or if I find unusual things to count or measure, or even if I just sit and chat while we color at the writing table.  We build bonds and get to know each other better...which is the cornerstone to good preschool and pre k teaching!  Besides...it is FUN!  After all, if you are like me...you aren't in it for the money...you're in this profession because you throughly enjoy spending your days with children.  

So, put some FUN back into your classroom!  I'd love to hear the ways you put FUN into your classroom too...we're all in this to make school great for little kids...we are each other's greatest resource!  Please leave a comment with your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions!


Best,

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