Activity Time: Say goodbye to mental burnout

Verb Charades with Shurley English.jpg

In some of my previous posts, I have touched upon the importance of keeping kids moving in the classroom.  Physical movement wakes up their brains, gets their blood flowing, and it’s just plain fun. While many of us typically seek comfort and routine in our daily lives, students in a classroom don’t always need that kind of comfort.  Yes, routines can help people stay focused and build self-discipline, but too much routine can also turn us into rigid creatures of habit. In my experience, students are more focused when classroom routines are followed, but there are also great benefits when they step away from the daily grind, and get moving. This is the ideal way to help them avoid mental burnout. 

When you add something out of the ordinary to your classroom activities, your students liven up.  I have found that the key to success in the classroom is the right mix of consistency and novelty, which can add just the right amount of spice!  The rhythm of Shurley English lessons provides day-to-day consistency and routine to keep students fully engaged in learning Language Arts.  However, students need something fresh and new to avoid mental burn-out.  Adding some creative flare to your Shurley English lessons can help you meet the needs of all learning styles and keep the learning process alive in your classroom.  When teachers integrate a healthy balance of consistency, practice, repetition, and differentiated activities, all students can enjoy success!

Take, for example, a simple game of charades.  This super activity engages the brain and has a powerful impact on kinesthetic and visual learners.  If you love to see students having fun while learning, here are a couple of ways you can make it happen when teaching verbs and imperative sentences, using charades:

Verb Charades

Supplies needed:  note cards

To reinforce verbs, make a list of simple action verbs and write each verb on an index card. Next, divide your students into teams. Then, one student from a team will draw a card and act out the action verb while their teammates attempt to guess the verb. If the student’s team guesses his/her action correctly, the team receives one point.

Imperative Charades

Supplies needed:  paper, pencil, note cards

To practice imperative sentences, have each student write a list of imperative sentences that can be acted out. (Examples: Close the door. Open a book.) Next, divide students into pairs and have them take turns reading their sentences. (This is the time to ensure each sentence is truly imperative.) Then, have students write each imperative sentence on a notecard. Gather all the notecards and mix them up. Now, it’s time to form teams and play Imperative Charades. One student from a team will draw a card and act out the command while their teammates attempt to guess the command. If the student’s team guesses his/her command correctly, the team receives one point.

These activities are sure to ward off the mental burnout that can sometimes set in at this time of year. So, liven up your classroom with a game of charades; it might be just the ticket to restore focus and energy!

Why Playing Games Boosts Emotional Intelligence

Games with Shurley English.jpg

Last time, I told you about nine ways to ignite emotional intelligence in your classroom. I discussed how music can impact emotional connections to learning. Now, let’s examine how bringing games into the school day can support emotional intelligence.

Game On. From the time we are infants, games often play big part in our lives. From Peek-a-Boo to Simon Says—playing games makes us happy. But games do a lot more than meets the eye. Some research says that teaching kids how to play board games, games of strategy, and digital games improves interpersonal and social-emotional skills.

Two Heads are Better Than One. Have you ever heard of collective intelligence? Well, it’s a real thing! Researchers have learned that two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two…you know the old adage. Turns out it’s true, at least for a lot of people. And it’s important for kids in classrooms, too. Games make this dynamic possible.

Decision-making and Predictions. Games, especially games of strategy, promote decision-making and the ability to make predictions based on actions. Think about how important it might be for kids if they learned and practiced how to analyze a chess move or a strategic move on a checker board. Every action leads to an outcome; and the better the kid is at predicting that outcome, the more likely the win. Decision-making and predictions are part of every day life and these are skills worth practicing!

Can I Live With the Risk? What about risk-taking? Yep! Experts agree; risk-taking is essential to learning because the brain is always sizing up situations to decide if staying and fighting is better than running away. Kids who are willing to take risks within reason show increased resilience in the face of adversity. They also show better wisdom when they know when to walk away from a fight. Know what that builds up inside of kids? Persistence! Persistence is one part patience and one part discipline. So, start playing games with kids and you up the odds that they will become more persistent and wiser about their actions. Of course, it’s not as simple as all that. It’s not a one and done proposition, but it has power if it is practiced consistently.

Cooperative Learning. In our learning environments, in or outside the home, games can prompt growth in other ways, too. Did you know that most of the jobs our kids of today will have don’t even exist yet? And did you know that those future jobs, more than likely, will be done in cooperative teams of employees? You know where I am going with this. Never underestimate the power of game play to help kids learn how to get along with one another. We call it cooperative learning for a reason. Yes, game-playing can sometimes lead to all-out mutiny, but it’s in the struggle, the compromise, the fits, and the resolution where kids can learn how to work alongside another and build mutual purpose. They also develop a stronger sense of self as they join in on the push and pull of interpersonal relationships.

As you forge new pathways with your students, remember to include games because they improve learning in ways that matter a lot today and that matter even more in the future. It’s time to get your game on!

In the next part of my series, I will talk about drama in the classroom…the kind that doesn’t make you crazy. Stay tuned!