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10 Essentials to Engaging the Young Brain

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Have you ever looked through your curriculum and thought, "Who is thinking some of this stuff up?"

For instance I had an activity to do today to teach positional words where the children were supposed to use a plastic cup and a bottle cap to show me they understood my directions. I just couldn't do it! How boring to sit on the carpet and move around a bottle cap so........I changed it! I happen to have a class set of small bug jars and plastic spiders. Well, my kiddos know I am totally afraid of spiders so I told them that at the end of the activity they could "attack" me with the spiders. This made the boys especially happy! The class loved using their bug jars and spiders to complete the same objective. Here are some other ideas to help engage young brains with fun in mind:

(1)Add a song: the best songs for learning involve movement and are ideally written on large chart paper for tracking while singing.

(2) Get moving: During every lesson include a time for movement whether the movement is a short shake break, stretching session, musical movement or theme movement we all know movement of any kind helps the brain to learn.

(3)Make lessons short, sweet and to the point: Don't talk around the subject, get right to it, engage the kiddos from the first minute, even better in the first 20 seconds and you will have their attention for 5-10 minutes.

(4) Add props with interest: Think of items you can use to teach that your class will like, my kiddos are totally into legos this year so I use them in every activity I can to help keep them on task.

(5) Switch it up: Don't overuse your props, think of new items from your kitchen, your schools supply closet or the dollar store. You would be amazed at how engaged a group of 4 year olds can be with the right props.

(6) Wear a costume: Wear a hat that goes with your lesson, put on a white coat for Dentists and Doctors, wear funny sock for St. Patrick's day. Anything that will spark their interest in the subject you are working on.

(7) Invite a secret guest reader: Ask a parent or administrator to come read to the class, give your students hints throughout the week of who this person is. My classes favorite so far this year was my mother. They had never met her but immediately started calling her "Mrs. O'Donnell's Mom." They embraced her with the love only small children can show. It is really the novelty of it that sparks their interest.

(8)Read, Read, Read: Find funny, serious, silly and non-fiction books to go with your theme. Exposing children to literature in different genres helps each child to learn in the way that is best for them.

(9) Be goofy: Make your lessons light hearted, tell a joke, sing a silly song. Young children love being silly and they find my silliness to be some of the most fun of our day.

(10)Show your love: Most importantly make sure every child in your class feels loved equally. You cannot engage a child in learning without showing them love.

There are so many ways to encourage fun learning in classrooms with young children. This is by no means an all inclusive list. I hope you found something you have never thought of before and are able to include it into your classroom soon!

Till next time, Christine

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