6 Unique Ways to Bring Your School Together and Make Learning Fun
January 27, 2021
Kids are an anomaly. As parents, educators, and anyone over the age of 25, it’s pretty safe to say that we are relatively clueless as to their astoundingly indecipherable hobbies and interests (Who the heck is Princess Elsa, and why are these headphones $300?!).
And in a world of Candy Crush, Facebook, and the millisecond attention span, it seems that getting kids – of any age, really – to focus on anything we deem important for longer than the time it takes to draft a sardonic tweet, is a fruitless endeavor.
Introducing school and learning into that already precarious struggle can be catastrophic. So what’s a good educator to do? How can we keep our pupils’ noses out of their phones and focused on what’s important—learning?
The first – and obvious – solution is to ban smartphones from schools. Let’s just ban them entirely, along with McDonald’s, Justin Bieber, the Internet, and everything else that’s potentially hazardous to their development. Problem solved. Blog’s over.
… But when you realize that’s just not possible, here are 6 refreshing ways to bring your school together:
The best way to get kids to care about what you’re saying is by giving them a reason to! Rather than spending a few hours inside the classroom teaching kids why it’s wrong to litter outside the classroom, show students hands-on ways they can make a difference. Starting the day off with a school-wide tree dedication ceremony is the best way to get kids in the mood to change the world. Following that up with hands-on lessons about gardening, composting, recycling, sustainability, and human consumption makes for a winning day of fun, creative learning.
School gardens are a fun and innovative way of getting students to not only learn about personal responsibility and the value of community, but also about the environment, sustainability, and the care that goes into and science behind the foods we eat every day.
Field Day is every school administration’s dream because it combines all the core values you spend the year trying to instill in your students, all in one fun, action-packed day. School spirit? Check. Good sportsmanship? Check. Physical activity? Check. Custom team shirts to separate kids into different grades, classes, etc. are an excellent touch to a theme day that is sure to inspire the true spirit of competition in every student in your school.
Classic activities like class-versus-class tugs of war and three-legged races are always going to be fan favorites, but here are a couple more modern suggestions to keep things interesting:
Disc Golf Ring Toss: Disc golf is a fun new sport that melds the craft and skill required for traditional golf with the fun and versatility of Frisbee. Place stakes of various heights in the ground, tape/tie hula hoops to their ends, and give them different numerical point values. Have students take turns tossing Frisbees through the hoops, and watch the competition get intense!
Water Balloon Fight: This one is pretty self-explanatory. While they can get messy, a school-wide water balloon fight is a fun and refreshing way to end a day of physical exercise and competitive fun.
Angry Birds Obstacle Course: Obstacle courses are a traditional field day staple, but don’t be afraid to liven things up and give them a more modern feel! Angry Birds is just one of many themes to use in your obstacle course, and kids will always appreciate a modern and relatable spin on a timeless classic. A couple of these and some bean bags are essential!
Do your students need a study kick start? No problem! Math Olympics and academic decathlons are excellent ways to give students a reason to do homework, study, work hard, and learn.
Sort them into grades, classes, and/or teams, and have them compete against one another in math- or academic-based games.
And to the winner go the spoils! Reward the winning team with something fun, like a pizza party. Sure, we wish we didn’t have to bribe students with pizza in order to get them to learn, but hey – we’ll take it!
As the days get longer and the temperatures get warmer, the subtle realization kicks in that the school year is almost over. Unfortunately, this also means that kids tend to begin losing focus on school work and start looking toward summer vacation.
Beach day is the perfect way to bring your students together, welcome the warmer weather, and keep them focused on the fact that school is still in session. Have students bring their own beach towels and head out to the playground. Allow them some time to lounge around, build sandcastles, play volleyball and listen to classic surf rock, like the Beach Boys!
That’s enough fun to keep anyone interested in school, but if you want to liven things up a bit, order some ice cream, or let the kids eat lunch outside to give it more of a BBQ/picnic-type feel.
Though it seems counter-intuitive, sometimes, allowing students some time to kick back and relax outside the classroom will help them focus on what’s going on inside the classroom.
And speaking of summer…
Pie the Principal Summer Reading Contest
For most kids, summer includes a whole smorgasbord of fun things; swimming at the lake, live concerts with buds, sleep, a family vacation abroad, summer camp, more sleep, picnics in the park, trips to favorite museums, BBQs, etc. Strangely enough, there is an inexplicable absence of “reading old books” on that list of summer fun. How crazy is that?
While it’s no secret that getting kids to spend even a second of their summer vacation delving into a good book, you’d be surprised to see how far even the least motivated kid will go for the chance to do something every student dreams of: getting back at the principal (Don’t take it to heart, big guy/girl — what 10-year-old wouldn’t loathe the person responsible for keeping them cooped up in a classroom five days a week?)
Accompany your school’s summer reading list with an enticing (and undeniably diabolical) perk: Come back in September with all the books read, and we’ll let you toss a pie at the principal.
We won’t tell you how to convince your principal to willingly allow such a fate to befall him or her, but here are a few ideas to make the experience more memorable:
- Pie them in the face
- Toss water balloons at them
- Dress them up as a hot dog (complete with ketchup and mustard!)
- Tar and feather them with feathers and something sticky (glue, maple syrup, etc.)
- People’s choice – let the students decide their principal’s fate!
This is definitely one of the best Spirit Day ideas for high school, middle school, and elementary school kids!
World Heritage Day
The best thing about this theme day is that regardless of one’s age, its real name stays the same: “Eat a Bunch of Food From All Over the World Day.”
Just kidding! But really, the old adage reigns true: The path to a person’s heart is through their stomach. And the path from their heart to their brain is, well, through a series of muscle tissue and veins, probably scattered by a few bones and some other gross things.
But the point is, kids love food. Like, they really love food. If you want to pique a kid’s interest in things like history, geography, cartography, culture, and other maybe-not-so-appealing topics, throw some new and interesting food on a plate and let the lessons begin.
World Heritage Day is also a great way to get your students to learn more about tolerance, cultural appreciation, different types of worldviews, and most importantly, one another.
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