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Enjoyment: The Forgotten Lesson Plan Component

Posted by on in What If?
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happy kids

I once taught in a school wher we had to use a standardized lesson plan template that was a helpful guide, but was pretty limited to just the basics. What was missing from that lesson plan template—and indeed from any lesson plan template that I have ever seen--is a section devoted to adding in enjoyment. We all know that when students enjoy their work, they perform better, stay on task, learn more, forge stronger connections, and tend to stay in school longer. If these are the benefits, shouldn’t we plan activities that will allow students to enjoy their work?

I would love to see a lesson plan template with a space dedicated to activities that students can enjoy.  It would be easy to add in activities that are enjoyable if a space for it appeared somewhere between the opening of class activities and the close of class activities. If this was a part of a lesson plan template, the implicit message would be clear: it’s important to consider the fun factor when planning lessons.

If you are fortunate enough to make up your own lesson plan template, consider adding in a space for fun in each lesson. You don’t have to devote lots of time each class to fun-filled activities but do consider formalizing your plans for it. Even just a quick little reminder to yourself to add a bit of joy into the school day would make a difference. Luckily for teachers everywhere, it’s not hard to plan classroom activities that students enjoy. Here are some simple, low preparation activities that you can adapt to make syour students smile as they go about their work:

Writing with markers

Making a demonstration

Watching short videos

Listening to guest speakers

Creating their own quizzes, worksheets, games, or puzzles

Communicating only through notes instead of conversation

Making three-dimensional graphic organizers

Unscrambling jumbled facts or events

Taking mini-field trips within the school

Participating in small discussion groups


Peer tutoring

Role playing

Skyping with another class

Teaming up with classmates to help others less fortunate

Playing educational games

Participating in a guided chat time

Reading aloud to younger students

Creating greeting cards


Answering riddles

Solving mysteries

Exploring mazes

Determining what unlike things could have in common

Solving brainteasers

Exploring an unusual artifact

Examining a photograph for incongruities

Using manipulatives

Finding hidden facts or clues

Being the first to…

Earning a silly reward or bragging rights

Getting up and moving around the class

Racing the clock

Racing another team in the class

Making a movie or audio tape

Performing in a class skit

Participating in a scavenger hunt

Making a stick figure sketch

Working with simulation problems

Participating in a class discussion without using a list of forbidden words related to the assignment

Playing an online game

Researching an unusual topic with a partner

Drawing on the board

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Julia Thompson received her BA in English from Virginia Tech and spent the next forty years teaching in Arizona, North Carolina, and Virginia. Recently retired as a classroom teacher, Thompson works for the Bureau of Education and Research conducting seminars geared to help teachers support difficult and challenging students. She is also a contributor/blogger for the American Federation of Teacher's site, ShareMyLesson.com.

Author of several books for teachers, Thompson's most recent book, the fourth edition of The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide, was published on Teacher Appreciation Day, May 8, 2018, a fitting date for a teacher who spent a lifetime learning from her colleagues both near and far.

Thompson offers advice for teachers on Twitter (@TeacherAdvice), on her blog (www.juliagthompson.blogspot.com) and on her web site (www.juliagthompson.com).

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Guest Monday, 18 February 2019