With the arrival of warmer weather, students become easily distracted and lose focus. As teachers, we know that we have to make the most of every instructional minute. Keeping our students interested at this time of the year requires some creativity and flexibility. Read on for strategies that will help you tackle Spring Fever in your classroom.
It’s time to shake those sillies out and get your students moving with a few brain breaks. Brain breaks help to energize students by combining the intellectual with the physical. Moving with a purpose can help develop the brain, organize the body, and maintain discipline. They are kind of a wake-up call for the brain. Energizing brain breaks are quick, one-to-two-minute activities for students that take virtually no preparation and no extra materials. Check out Classroom Fitness Breaks to Help Kids Focus by Sarah Longhi. Another great resource for games that teach skills, build community, and help students release energy is 36 Games Kids Love to Play by Adrian Harrison.
Check out these ready-to-use cheer cards by Dr. Jean. I place these cards in our cheer box and pull them whenever my students need a brain break.
Get your students out of their seats and on their feet with music. Bringing music into the classroom can be a great way to fight Spring Fever. Music gives students the opportunity to be creative, use that excess energy, and learn in interactive ways.
When my students are having a hard time focusing, I will often stop and turn on our favorite jams. Nothing helps to get the wiggles out more than turning on a little music and dancing! Dr. Jean and Jack Hartmann both have tons of fun and educational songs you can use in your classroom.
During certain independent activities such as reading, writing, or coloring, I play classical music softly in the background. This relaxing music helps my students become more comfortable and stimulates their creativity.
Sometimes I use music as a signal for change. For example, I always use music to notify my students when it is time to begin morning meeting. When the morning meeting song plays, students begin to prepare and gather on the carpet. Transitional classroom music can help improve classroom management. For more ways you can incorporate music into your classroom, see Top Tunes for Teaching by Eric Jensen.
Helping students understand classroom rules and expectations is a priority at the beginning of the school year. However, during this time of the school year, many teachers begin to see a breakdown in student behavior. Negative student behaviors cause interruptions and take away from what others are trying to learn. For this reason it is very important to continue to reinforce classroom rules and expectations. A great time to revisit your classroom rules and expectations is during morning meeting and closing circle. I always do this at the beginning of the week and after returning from a break. Check out Classroom Management: 24 Strategies Every Teacher Needs to Know for effective and easy-to-use strategies for organizing and managing the classroom.
Now is the time to take a break from the classroom and go outside to explore. Come up with activities that can be completed outside. Students need that occasional change of atmosphere. It will also help to run off that excessive case of Spring Fever. Try to incorporate outdoor activities into lessons or books that you are using in the classroom. During our study on bugs, for instance, students made a number of trips outside to catch various bugs and make observations. My students were able to get a hands-on experience with nature in our natural classroom — the great outdoors! When they returned to the classroom, I found that they were less jittery and better able to focus. Check out Moving the Classroom Outdoors by Herbert Broda for more ideas about outdoor learning.
By incorporating games and energizing activities, and exploring new learning environments, you can cure that case of Spring Fever in your classroom.
What techniques do you use? Please comment below.