How can you make learning more fun and effective?
Recently one of my children has been struggling at school, and we have tried to spend a lot more time doing extra work at home. I’ve tried various different things to help him, and was really struggling to get through to him, but then I worked something out, he is a ‘visual’ learner. Telling him facts, or getting him to read vast amounts of text just doesn’t stay in his head and nor can he manage a lot of the time to take it in, but show him an educational clip and he just ‘gets’ it.
Luckily in the modern world we have the brilliance that is YouTube, and for pretty much any subject that he learns about at school, there is a YouTube video (or 100’s of them!) which is educational, often fun and much more interesting to him than someone using lots of long words to describe something he can’t visualize.
A good example of this, is that recently he has been learning about natural disasters at school, and was struggling to get his head around what this actually meant, as really if you have never seen a Tsunami or a tornado, how can a few words really explain to you the pure devastation and level of destruction that they cause? He really had no idea, this is where YouTube came in!
We showed him lots of videos on there of natural disasters, and he was fascinated, engaged, and he learnt more in 20 minutes of videos, than we had managed to teach him in hours of reading with him, and trying to explain to him. I have come to the conclusion that some children just find different ways of learning easier than others, as his brother is more of a ‘needs to read it himself’ type. My sons are now actually on occasion choosing to watch YouTube for learning instead of just ‘try not to laugh’ and Minecraft videos, and are having fun doing it!
Another way I make learning more fun for my boys are our spelling tests that we do, which I have to admit usually include a few ‘ruder’ words in there. They are much more keen to do a spelling test, when they have no idea what words I might come out with, but don’t worry they aren’t THAT rude, more of the cheeky toilet humour variety.
I also bought a long time ago two mini white boards for my children to write on when we are doing spelling tests, or practicing our maths (I need as much help as they do sadly!), and for some reason feeling all important with their own whiteboard, and the novelty of rubbing their words off means they are much more willing to write than they are on paper.
I find this odd myself, but whatever works! We now (2016) also use our Glow Art neon drawing board.
I am currently in the middle of making a Math’s Bingo game, with the aid of my trusty laminator, and which I will put on here once it’s finished to show you exactly how it works. It’s pretty much like normal Bingo, except that instead of me calling out a number I will call out and hold up a sum, that they then need to work out, before they can decide whether to mark off a number on their ‘boards’.
When it comes to learning about history, my sons both love watching Horrible Histories (me too!) and I’m constantly amazed by the facts that they remember about history when watching the shows. It really does make for fun learning, even if it is a little bit gross at times, but then they’re boys so the ‘gross’ and slightly gory bits tend to be their favourite bits!
I was really lucky recently to be contacted by the lovely people at Hall For Cornwall in Truro, who wanted to know if I could review their Horrible Histories show for them in April as a favour to them, well a favour that includes free tickets (cheekily my favourite kind!), and funnily enough considering how much the whole family enjoys the Horrible Histories tv shows, I said yes straight away.
We are going in April to watch Incredible Invaders which on their website they describe as;
‘The Celts are crunched when the Ruthless Romans invade Britain! Can Crazy Caratacus save the nation? Hide behind Hadrian’s Wall. See the Savage Saxons smash their way in. Find out who’s at Sutton Hoo! Will you survive the Vicious Vikings as they sail into the audience? Stop King Alfred burning his buns! It’s a thousand year journey with Incredible Invaders’
Although they have asked me to review the show, they didn’t ask me to do any ‘plugging’ before hand, I am merely doing that as I am so excited to be going to see this, and also think there are probably a lot of people that don’t realise this show even exists!
If you live in Cornwall you can watch either Incredible Invaders or Groovy Greeks at the Hall for Cornwall in Truro from Tuesday 14th April through til Saturday 18th April, and from a quick googling session I can see that it will also be on all over the country, so even if you don’t live in Cornwall you have a good chance of finding somewhere closer to you to watch it!
For more information on the Hall For Cornwall performance, and indeed any other of their child friendly shows (they’ve had the Snail and the Whale, Peppa Pig and all sorts before!) then visit www.hallforcornwall.co.uk. I’ll let you know how the show goes!
I really do think that this is how history should be taught to children, in a fun memorable way, not just lots of text and lists of dates to memorize. I was lucky when I was younger to have a fantastic history teacher at Newquay Treviglas school by the name of Mr. Firmston, who made history fun for me.
I’m sure he would approve of the Horrible Histories programmes and shows, as he also often focussed on the more gruesome aspects of history, and whilst many teachers I can no longer remember their names even, I can still remember some of his classes in vivid detail!
I am on the look out for other ways to make learning fun for both of my children, and I expect we’ll be making more educational but ‘fun’ games ourselves soon, and will definitely show Maths Bingo off to you once I’ve finished it. Keep an eye out for future posts of this nature (if you like!), and feel free to let me know what methods you use to encourage your own children to learn.