One of the most challenging things teachers face is keeping students engaged and excited about learning. This is even more challenging for kindergarten and primary teachers.
No matter how perfectly they have created or prepared their lesson plan, when they begin teaching, they still have children who are bored or just don’t ‘get it’. Keeping children engaged or excited about learning is really a challenge for every teacher. Well, kids are kids. However, with the advancement in research and development, there are now several tools and resources to help teachers boost engagement in the class.
In this piece, we bring some useful tools and tips for kindergarten teachers to help boost engagement in the class.
Launched in 2013, Kahoot is a free game-based learning platform established with a mission to make learning awesome. It delivers engaging learning to billions of people across more than 200 countries. By making learners play fun games, Kahoot makes learning engaging for everyone.
The platform makes it easy to create, host or share and play learning games or trivia quizzes on any topic and in any language. First built to address classroom needs, Kahoot is now played in business training sessions, at sporting and cultural events, or in any social and learning context. Teachers, students, businesses and parents, all use Kahoot for group learning, e-learning, distance learning, and self-study.
ClassDojo is a school communication platform that connects teachers with students and parents to build close-knit communities by sharing what’s being learned in the classroom through photos, videos, and messages. It aims to give every kid on earth a learning experience and education they love.
It facilitates teachers to create a positive culture, give students a voice with digital portfolios, and then get parents engaged by sharing photos and videos of wonderful classroom moments. ClassDojo works for any classroom, on any device, and is 100% free for teachers.
Go Noodle, a game-based platform, engages kids with movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. It is built with a whole child approach that benefits kids’ physical wellness, academic success, and social-emotional health. The platform is available for free at school, home, and everywhere kids are.
Puzzlets, provided by Digital Dream Labs, are a Bluetooth accessory for tablet or computer that allows students to play games related to coding, math, or color theory. They include interactive games that teach students basic programming, math, and art skills. Through games, the Puzzlet kit allows students to explore creativity and learn via a hands-on approach. It has three games: Cork the Volcano – the entertaining learn to code video game, Abacus Finch – the video game to learn math, and Swatch Out – the game to learn art theory.
Puzzlet’s games are much more rewarding than test-style programs. Knowing that intrusive tests block students from having fun, Digital Dream Labs try to infuse education into its games to make them so entertaining that they students don’t even realize they are learning.
Glogster is a cloud-based multimedia platform for creating presentations and interactive learning. Mostly used by students and teachers, the platform allows users to combine text, images, graphics, audio, and video to create interactive poster called glogs on a virtual canvas. With a library of over 40,000 glogs from classrooms around the world, categorized into 80 topics across nine disciplines, these hand-picked glogs make up a rich and engaging resource for both educators and students.
With more than 1.9 million teacher accounts and over 17 million student accounts, Glogster is used in over 200 countries.
TinyTap is a free social platform which empowers families, teachers and students to learn from each other by creating their own personalized learning apps and playing thousands of new ones created and shared daily by worldwide community of educators and learners. With simple and interactive tools such as Q&A, readings, soundboards, puzzles, quizzes, and more, it allows anyone to create beautiful games to teach and learn anything.
With TinyTap, teachers can quickly and easily create fun educational activities for any purpose and engage their students in something new. Special needs teachers and caretakers can utilize this simple and powerful platform to come up with new ways to help those in need and personalize activities to fit each person individually.
Kids can easily create and play fun, interactive games from everyday photos and videos, enjoy making games for younger kids, and/or use the app to create games for a class activity.
Useful tips to help kindergarten teachers boost engagement
Nothing can attract a kid more than a pleasant sound. Using music to emphasize learning point lures children to be more connected to a lesson. It can reinforce content and encourage interaction. For example, using a song to teach letters or toys reading out letters with music and sounds is a fun way to help students remember new information. Singing a song too can help students understand vocabulary and grammar. Story songs with repeated phrases set to an interesting rhythm may help children embrace new concepts without pressure. It can actually provide a strong connection with language development and engage the senses of young children.
Interaction is one of the most important elements that a teacher can use for better engagement. You may foster group work or partner activities, it will force students to interact with one another and engage in the learning environment. When students apply new concepts by creating a project together, they’re more likely to be excited about what they learn. For example, pairing students and asking them to create a story that incorporates three different objects encourages creativity and teamwork. Similarly, adding art projects to a traditional subject lessons engage kindergartners let them explore the subject to a wider extent.
Kindergarten is the first-step of learning for any child. It offers them with the opportunity to gain confidence and develop a love for learning. Therefore, it ought to have a supportive and easy learning environment. Kindergarteners are more likely to remain focused and interested if they recognize their progress and are reinforced along the way. When they’re empowered to push themselves at their own pace, they’re more likely to remain enthusiastic about the experience. Self-directed learning aligned with appropriate classroom goals helps students feel involved in their education.
Use multiple learning methods
We’re in an age where traditional learning system is not the only option. There are a number of options available now, like game-based learning, problem-solving learning, personalized learning, etc. It is believed that students often stay more engaged or alert when teachers use a variety of materials or learning formats/systems and switch activities every now and then. So you might break down longer class blocks into different segments, to as small as 5-10 minutes. In first segment, you may introduce students to basic concepts, allow for Q&A session. Next, assign interactive activity in groups or pairs, followed by audio/visual display of content or a discussion over it, etc. This will help students keep energized and engaged in the best way.
Provide ‘brain breaks’
Studies have shown that it’s difficult to maintain a high level of concentration for an extended amount of time, especially in case of little kids. They require short breaks to freshen up their minds. So, it’s a good idea to build short breaks and transitions into the class. In fact, these breaks occur naturally in the school (in between activities, breaks for snacks and recess, etc). But, if you’re teaching for a longer period of time, you may consider this while structuring your lessons plans.
Allow physical movements
Making children sit on the same place for a long time makes them become bored or even tired. When students become bored or tired, they lose interest of learning. So to keep them active or excited about learning, it is good or necessary to encourage/make them move around the classroom for few seconds or a minute. A few seconds of physical movement can reenergize the students. Or, you may ask students, one by one, to come up to write on the board, or make all students move out of the classroom for a minute and come in, etc.
Making appropriate use of technology
Technology distracts students, right? Yes, in one way it keeps them from focusing, but technologies have a lot to offer, even for preschoolers. Use of technology has become paramount irrespective of any age/class in today’s world. While one solution is to ban phones and computers from the classroom, another solution is to harness their tech-savvy and engage students with online tools that will help them learn better or give a different learning experience. Making appropriate use of tools like video, games, quizzes, graphics, etc. are a great way to keep students engaged and excited about learning.
Try the above amazing tools and tips to boost engagement in the classroom and do let us know if they worked in the comment sections.