Students learn more effectively when they are having fun. This is why it’s so important to use games, activities, and crafts to encourage hands-on learning. But it’s difficult to continually come up with new creative ideas to help students learn and have fun in the process.
Now, you’ll never run out, because Brilliant or Insane brings you 9 inventive and fun activities for learning. There is something on this list for everyone: outdoor activities, brainteasers, technology based activities, traditional arts and crafts, and science experiments. Some activities require almost no preplanning or materials, while others do. All activities, however, are designed to be cheap and simple to set up. Enjoy!
Many parents are skeptical that video games are can be good educational tools. That might be true for many games, but certain video games are great for teaching problem solving and reasoning, which can help students succeed in other subjects. Minecraft is a little different from other games. It allows players to create their own virtual world, which is great for creativity. It is also an excellent introduction to STEM subjects. Minecraft teaches computer coding, and it has a balanced appeal for both girls and boys. The game’s list price is $26.95, which won’t break the bank and should give kids hours of learning and creative fun.
Want students to multiplication tables and enjoy doing it? Fizz-Buzz is the answer. Students start counting up from one. When they reach a number that has a five in it, or is divisible by five, (like 15 or 51) they say “fizz” instead of the number. If they reach a number that has a seven in it, or is divisible by 7 (like 14 or 17), they should say, “buzz.” For numbers like 35, students say, “fizz-buzz.” To make the game more interesting, try playing as fast as possible while standing in a line. If the student makes a mistake, he or she must go to the back of the line. The goal is to get to the front and stay there for as long as possible. The teacher can also adapt the game to use any multiplication table or even add a third, (fizz, buzz, wizz).
#3: Toothpick Puzzles
Arrange toothpicks into patterns and then challenge students to make a new pattern by moving a limited number of the toothpicks. This is an ideal brainteaser to get students problem solving, using logic, and thinking geometrically. It can be done in both the classroom or at the dinner table. You can find puzzles and their solutions online.
One of our favorite inventive activities for learning is geocaching, which blends technology and nature. If you’ve never heard of geocaching it’s worldwide treasure hunt with over two million geocaches. Participants use GPS to navigate to a cache, either using a GPS device or on a GPS enabled cellphone. The app is free to download for iPhone or Android. More information can be found on the official geocaching website.
#5: Build a Pinhole Camera
Building a working camera can teach students about things like optics and the physical sciences. Directions can be found online and the process is surprisingly simple and fun. When the camera is finished, it changes from a science project to an art project as students start making use of invention. All of the supplies needed to make a camera are easy to find lying around the house.
Jeopardy is the game show that gives the contestants the answer first and then contestants try to come up with the question. In the classroom, teachers can tailor the game to any subject and use it to review material. It’s a wonderful method of collaboration. Outside of the classroom, parents can watch jeopardy with their kids and play along or stage a family competition. There are tons of trivia games online and the J! Archive has 30 season’s worth of Jeopardy questions and answers stretching all the way back to 1984.
#7: Simple Science Experiments
With a little imagination, teachers and parents can help kids become scientists. Parents might be familiar with some of the classic science projects (the vinegar and baking soda volcano or the phone made from cups and string) but there are many other experiments as well. Try dusting for fingerprints or making invisible ink. Check out Turtle Diary or education.com for even more ideas.
#8: Amateur Astronomy
The stars are fascinating to look at, especially from the lens of a telescope. Couple observation time with a lesson on constellations and the life cycle of stars. Be sure to check out any eclipses, comets, or meteor showers in your area. There are myriad videos online that are both educational and fun.
#9: Build a Hovercraft
Hovercrafts work by floating on a layer of compressed air. It’s easy to make a small model using only a CD, a balloon, a bottle cap, and some glue to demonstrate the principle. For more ambitious projects, students can build larger hovercrafts using a shop-vac and a few other basic materials.
With a little imagination and ingenuity, this can become an endless list. Help us build it for our community. Add your favorite inventive and fun activity for learning in our comment section below.
Let’s see if we can get to 50 inventive and fun activities!
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Brilliant or Insane contributor Forrest Miller is a writer and an educator, specializing in ESL. He is from Oregon, currently living and teaching in China.