Do your lesson plans seem to be losing their impact? Do your students tend to feel a late fall drag after the newness of the school year wears off, or do you just feel like you’re in a bit of a rut?

There are all kinds of exciting ways to shake things up in the classroom, regardless of grade level or subject. Here are some ideas for inspiration.

Get Technical

With so many tech savvy students these days, it’s easy to help them find a crossover that taps into their tech skills but also teaches them something. Try working on group or solo STEM activities in the classroom, or perhaps there’s a computer module or app students can use as a larger activity. The possibilities here are endless, as there are thousands of potential lesson plans online to choose from. 

Make It a Game Show

When learning feels more like a game than work, students are not only more likely to participate, they actually get excited. Games like Jeopardy are excellent for test preparation, reviewing yesterday’s lesson, or even assessing which areas students are struggling with the most. You can break your class up into groups or make it a competition among all of them. 

Let Students Teach

Sometimes, sitting and listening for hours on end causes student burnout, so shake things up by giving them a little power. Assign students a specific subject or event to teach the class about, and give them 15 minutes to explain the lesson. Remind them to be prepared to answer questions from the class. 

Have a Special Guest

A guest teacher is always exciting, but when it’s a dog, it’s even better! Science teachers might bring in their four-legged companion for a lesson about mammals, while social studies teachers might bring in a service dog to discuss the ways they assist people with disabilities. For math classes, Rex can be a live model for lessons in measuring length, height, and weight. 

Get Dramatic 

Sometimes, students struggle with relating to their lessons, so throw them into the action by putting on a play. Make it a class project to write, edit, practice, and perform it, or place students in groups and have them write a specific scene. You can assign responsibilities based on students’ strengths and preferences. For example, if you have a student with Asperger’s who isn’t comfortable performing but is extremely handy, ask them to create props and act as your producer.

Get Tangible

Many students learn better through touch and experimentation. Give students a hands-on way to learn about the subject at hand, like a DNA replica made out of toothpicks and mini marshmallows, a shoebox representation of the ground surface of Mars, or a shadowbox of a famous scene from history. 

The good news is that you’re not alone if you’re looking for ways to shake things up in the classroom, and the better news is that there are plenty of options. Consider some of these ideas to overcome the burnout.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

With hundreds of online learning resources available, an indoor rainy day doesn’t have to be boring. If you have a computer, you and your kids are just a click away from a variety of family-friendly recipes, exercise videos, drawing tutorials, science experiments, and music lessons. Keep reading to learn how to transform a rainy day into a fun, educational experience. 

Healthy Recipes

Cooking is a great way to teach kids how to eat healthy and follow recipes, which can carry over into adulthood. Kids can also enhance their math skills by measuring the ingredients. Start with simple recipes, such as making hummus or a salad. Roasted chicken is a more advanced recipe, but your child can enjoy stuffing the chicken with seasonings. 

YouTube Exercise Videos

Frequent exercise is associated with enhanced coordination, cognitive development, and self-esteem. With that being said, a rainy day can make outdoor physical activity difficult. The good news is that YouTube has hundreds of kid-friendly exercise videos to get your kids up and moving. From fun workout routines to yoga tutorials to dance how-tos, these videos are sure to burn off some of that rainy-day energy in no time. To end the workout session, check out a few kid-friendly stretching videos. 

Drawing Tutorials

Drawing can help children develop skills in self-expression, creativity, and fine muscle control. The importance of drawing in a child’s development is reflected by the vast number of online drawing tutorials for kids. In fact, there are entire websites dedicated to teaching kids how to draw everything from food and cartoons to animals and vehicles. If your child is currently interested in a particular book or movie, there is likely a drawing tutorial available to teach them how to draw their favorite character. If you want to start with drawing basics, check out some beginner videos that focus on shapes, lines, and simple designs. To get started, all you need is some paper and a few pencils.

Music Lessons 

Learning how to play a musical instrument has been associated with higher levels of self-esteem, patience, and physical coordination. There is also evidence to suggest that playing an instrument makes it easier for kids to learn other subjects and can even result in enhanced language development. While there are a number of instruments to choose from, two of the most common kid-friendly instruments are the saxophone and the clarinet.

The saxophone is often considered one of the easiest instruments to learn and can be played across a number of genres, including jazz and rock. For children who love playing the recorder, the clarinet is a great next step. This compact and versatile instrument is one of the easiest for children to hold and can be used to play a variety of diverse music. Because the saxophone and clarinet are among the most popular instruments, there are countless online lesson videos to get your child started.

Don’t let a rainy day bring you and your kids down. If you want to beat the boredom, simply jump online and explore a number of fun, educational videos, tutorials, and lessons that your kids will enjoy. With each rainy day comes an opportunity to help your children develop a variety of diverse skills. Make your next rainy day the best one yet through a combination of physical activity, drawing, and music.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay 

Music is powerful. Research has shown that learning to play an instrument at an early age can benefit children socially, academically, and emotionally. The same is true for special needs children, who may even benefit therapeutically from the arts. Here are some ways you can get your child involved.

Benefits of Learning an Instrument

Many children with special needs have difficulty with fine motor skills. A good music instructor will patiently help your child learn to control each finger in order to make sounds on their instrument. Unlike traditional therapeutic methods, music therapy can provide an immediate boost to your child’s confidence. Even if your child experienced difficulty placing his fingers in the right configuration, the joy of creation and of being able to hear the result on his instrument can greatly benefit his self-esteem.

A side effect of this boosted confidence is that a music room with multiple options can help give your child the opportunity to make a choice. Children with special needs often seek out opportunities to control their environment, and picking out an instrument is a way for them to express themselves. In some cases, for less verbal children, the process of choosing an instrument for the day can help them communicate without needing to speak. 

Children with learning disabilities also tend to get great joy from sensory play, even if they are more susceptible to sensory overload. Playing an instrument offers a wide array of experiences, from touch (like the feel of a saxophone’s buttons, the metallic roughness of a guitar’s strings, or the smooth wood of a violin) to sound (like brassy trumpets and moody, rich cellos). Learning the different instruments and comparing the sounds they create can be another way for your child to express himself and be educated in the process. 

Finally, music classes are inherently social. Music becomes more enjoyable when it’s made with others, and as a nonverbal method of communication, it can help to create deep bonds between friends. Making music also helps develop both sides of the brain and increases attention spans.

Choosing the Right Instrument

Choosing the right instrument for your child is a major decision. Factor in their personality and preferences as well as their physical characteristics. For example, learning the piano provides a solid musical foundation, but it will take a long time before your pianist will be able to play with others. String instruments often provide more opportunities for group play right out of the gate and are frequently taught in group settings at the beginner level. Be sure to notice the characteristics of the instrument; while violins come in a range of sizes suitable for children of all ages, tubas and bassoons are tall and bulky, so they may not be the best choice for a small child. 

All of this is secondary, though, to your child’s preference. Try taking your child to a music store or a room with plenty of examples, and let him browse. See which instrument he is drawn to, and if possible, ask the teacher or music store employee for a test run.

Developing Spatial Awareness through Dance

The other arts are also powerfully effective in helping children with special needs. Dance, in particular, can be wonderful for children with limited spatial awareness. Dance is all about knowing the feel and flow of one’s body, and familiarizing your child with different movements is one way to develop basic motor skills in a safe, fun environment. Dance is also another means of nonverbal creative expression, which can be invaluable for children with difficulty communicating. 

The arts are powerful, helping to develop both mental abilities and physical awareness. For children with special needs, the arts can be even more impactful by helping to foster abilities that will benefit their entire lives.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay