# Use Personal Life Changing Events to Motivate Student Learning

By  Megan Power on May 6, 2010

Carson Christopher Power born 5/2/2010!

As teachers we are always looking for creative ways to motivate our students to want to learn in a purposeful way. An easy and exciting way to do this is to involve your class in your personal life changes. Take a look at how I used getting married and having a baby as springboards for learning activities to work on writing skills and math concepts with my students.

Carson Christopher Power born 5/2/2010!

As teachers we are always looking for creative ways to motivate our students to want to learn in a purposeful way. An easy and exciting way to do this is to involve your class in your personal life changes. Take a look at how I used getting married and having a baby as springboards for learning activities to work on writing skills and math concepts with my students.

My kindergarten class this year became very excited with my growing belly. I used their interest in the baby to get them to practice their writing skills. As we got closer to my due date, students would ask what the baby’s name was going to be. My husband and I like to keep it a secret, so I had my students write their guess and explain why they think I would give the baby this name. This was a fun way to get them to write about the why part of a sentence. Some kids started by writing things like “I think you should name your baby Jayson.” After asking them why, we were able to add more details to their sentences. The students were eager to see if anyone guessed correctly (which they didn’t) and they continued to try to guess names until I left for maternity leave.

In math, my students and I worked on measurement and graphing. Using the theme of having a baby made these very easy concepts and authentic skills to practice. My students got to measure my belly, guess how long the baby will be, and experiment with weighing objects. I explained to my students what babies typically weigh and they got a chance to hold flour sacks in the different weights. It was really neat seeing them hold flour sacks and try to figure out how much they thought the baby would weigh. After, we glued pictures of flour sacks to baby bottles to show our predictions. To practice graphing, students graphed their guesses about the baby's hair color hair and whether or not he would have a little or a lot of hair.

Another fun activity was my students directed drawing of a stork carrying a baby. I will be posting a future blog all about directed drawing and its benefits in the next few weeks.

My students and their parents also gave me a beautiful baby shower on my last day of school. My students were so excited to be a part of this and we all had such a great time.

When I got married five years ago, I used this major event in my life to motivate my students learning in some fun and creative ways. Here are two writing activities I did with my students that also helped work on their writing skills:

1) I held a writing contest. Students were given the topic of LOVE and were encouraged to write a poem. The winner of the contest had their poem read at my wedding ceremony and printed in my program. Because this writing was very realistic my students really spent a lot of time and put a ton of energy into this writing piece. It was extremely difficult selecting a winner because of the quality of writing. I will never forget my guests reactions to the poem that was selected and how special it was to have my students be a part of this amazing day.

2) To give my students’ writing a new twist, I had them try out persuasive writing. I presented them with three places that my fiancé and I were considering for our honeymoon. The students looked at photos and read information about the three places before writing a persuasive paragraph trying to convince me to honeymoon at the place of their choice. Students really got into this activity and my husband and I absolutely enjoyed our honeymoon in Anguilla.

As you can see from these examples, I was able to mix a ton of learning in with these major life changes. Allowing my students to be a part of these important events helped my students to not only practice skills in a meaningful way, but it also helped build a stronger sense of community and relationships with each other.

I would love to hear other ways that you have incorporated important life events into your teaching. If you are going through one of these life changes please don’t be afraid to put down the curriculum, be creative, and involve your students. You will be impressed with the results!

Megan,

Congrats on Boy #2! I had my second boy in March. It is certainly busy, but so much fun! I hope things are going well for you!

Your posts have been great this year! I have shared many of them with the kindergarten teachers at my school.

Beth,
Thanks so much! I am enjoying being a mommy to two boys although it can get crazy. Congratulations on your #2 boy. I am glad that you enjoyed my posts this year and were able to share them with your teachers. I am a big fam of your posts in the Top Teaching section and I always love to watch your class movies. I look forward to meetng you later this summer.
Smiles,
Megan

-Beth

As a grade 4 teacher I tend to use personal experiences quite often. It causes the students to make real life connections. They relate to the objective more speedily and figure out that the instructor is Human, just like them. I love it!
Bev in Bermuda.
Prospect Primary P5

Bev,
Thanks a bunch for adding your comment. I love to hear about how other teachers are using personal experiences to teach with. You are so right about them realizing that you are human too. I love how you put that! I hope you have a great end of the school year!
Smiles,
Megan