In my practice as a learning specialist and educational therapist, I quickly learned that games were the secret weapon to learning. Candy, toys and other bribing forces trigger limited and brief bursts of motivation, but sparking a love for learning remains the bullseye. Everyone loves to play a game, and when instruction incorporates creative and multisensory merriment to combat and obliterate learning fatigue and frustration, even the most discouraged learners will rise to the occasion.
Why do Games Grasp the Hearts and Minds of Students?
Paring pleasantries and positive feelings with scholarship increases the motivation to learn over time. I can't tell you how upset I get when I learn that a student has been assigned school work as a punishment. This silent warfare wreaks havoc on self-directed learning and homework completion. In contrast, when humor, joy, comfort, and nurturance is associated with the process, an insatiable force is ignited. I have witnessed this transformation time and time again, and it amazes me how quickly and easily it can happen.
How Can I Embrace this Gaming Mentality?
- Create fun and engaging titles for your lessons: You can also bring humor into your lessons. CLICK HERE to learn more about this. Here is a sample of a humorous video that I created to help teach my students about fractions: https://youtu.be/ovftVSTAvCk
- Be enthusiastic about the learning process: Let your students know how excited you are about teaching the next lesson and share some enticing previews of some awesome games and activities that they will be experiencing.
- Integrate games or fun activities into lessons: Allow your students to “play” with the most important concepts. For example, when teaching prepositions, my students cut strips of paper and make an igloo for paper cutout of Preppy the Preposition Penguin so they can witness that a preposition is anything Preppy can do to his igloo. Another example is creating a mobile when teaching order of operations, called My Pet PEMDAS. I offer many more educational games, activities, and multisensory lessons that you purchase, or you can create them yourself.
- Use fun methods to assure learning: After a lesson, you can break the class into teams. You ask questions out loud. Students can quickly jot answers on personal whiteboards and hold them up. The first correct answer wins a point for the team. If the kids then highlight their notes with the content that was used in the game, they can use this information to help them prepare for any quizzes or tests.
- Create or find fun and engaging assignments: I usually create a variety of assignment options. This way students can select the most enjoyable option. I even allow them to propose their own assignments from time to time. The bottom line is I just want to make sure that they master the content.
Create a handout or webpage that offers fun places your students can go to preview and review topics: Encourage them to share with you any other fun sites that make learning enjoyable. If I use their recommended resources on my own handouts or sites, I often give them a prize or extra credit points. Here is a link to my own personal homework help page: https://learningtolearn.biz/homework-help
Cheers, EricaDr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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