20 Ways to Put More Fun in Your Lessons

There is one sure-fire way to prevent behaviour problems, build better relationships with your students, make them love your lessons and bag you a nomination for Teacher of the Year – add more fun!

All you have to do is put more fun in your lessons and the following ideas should help get you started. Some are silly, some are wacky and some are plain outrageous but I’m sure you’ll find something worth trying. With a little effort, putting fun in your lessons will soon become a habit, the mood in your classroom will lift and your students will be lining up outside your room with broad smiles replacing their sullen frowns.

1. Use theme music.

A CD of TV and film theme tunes is a great investment. You can play ‘Chariots of fire’, ‘Rocky’ or ‘Mission Impossible’ at the start of lessons, Benny Hill when you want them to change activities and ‘Countdown’ when you want them to answer spot questions.

2. Use sound effects.

Rapturous applause when students answer questions, a machine gun when they’re being cheeky etc. Technology makes this easy – most mobile phones can be plugged in to a speaker system and can be used to access all manner of sound effects. I recently used my iPhone to trick the kids outside into thinking the ice cream van had arrived. It’s amazing what you can do with sound effects.

3. Add a touch of magic to spice up your lessons – as a starter, fill-in or imaginative and engaging way to deliver lesson content.

Magic is amazingly effective for capturing the attention and imagination of your students, and with a little creativity most tricks and illusions can be adapted for almost any subject or topic. There are two main types of magic – MIND MAGIC in which you read the minds of your students or foretell events to come and ILLUSIONS in which simple props are used. You can find many tricks for free online and adapt them for classroom use or you can use the ready-made tricks specifically for teachers explained in my book The Fun Teacher’s Tool Kit. You’ll find it on Amazon.

4. Give students crazy gifts for answering questions correctly.

For example Christmas cracker toys, pieces of tofu, herbal tea bags etc. The crazier the better.

5. Get a big, bright red pair of boxing gloves…

…and put them on whenever a student is misbehaving. Or a policeman’s hat, or some vampire fangs, or a big inflatable hammer etc.

6. Tell your students to do the ‘Dying Fly’ whenever a question is too hard.

I can’t remember which of my favourite childhood TV programmes this came from; all I remember was a television studio full of people lying on their backs with their arms and legs waving in the air 

pretending to be dying flies. So it’s a toss-up between Tiswas and Question Time. It’s a great stress reliever (I still do it before going to the bank) and it always causes a laugh.

7. Have special dress day.

Once a month – or more often if you dare - let your students come dressed up for a special theme.

Weird Sock Day, Silly Hat Day, Hawaiian Day, Red Nose Day, Messy Student day etc.

8. Take snapshots of your students and display the photos on a notice board in your room.

Kids love to see themselves in photographs and even if the photos aren’t funny, or the youngsters are excessively ugly (only joking), they will still enjoy seeing them on display.

9. Tell a funny story.

It must say something about me that I have a very good stock of funny stories about mistakes I’ve made and embarrassing moments and accidents I’ve been involved in. Students LOVE to hear a funny story half way through the lesson, “Right, put your pens down, I’ve got another for you…” – especially when it’s about their foolish teacher.

10. Encourage class comedians.

It’s easy to get frustrated with the class clown and the disruption they cause but if we instead see them as a positive influence we can benefit from their humour whilst giving them some help and guidance on appropriate limits and boundaries. By encouraging their humour – in the right way, perhaps by offering them five minutes of ‘cabaret time’ rather than constantly interrupting you –they can actually have a far better influence on the group than you probably currently believe.

11. Decorate the room in a fun way

A clown mannequin, fun posters, crazy cartoon faces hanging from the ceiling, off-beat or surreal 3D displays are some of the ways I’ve seen classrooms brightened up.

There is a selection of fun classroom management posters (the picture above is taken from one of them) for free immediate download in our classroom management resource area at: https://www.needsfocusedteaching.com/free-resources

12. Recognize pupil achievements in a wild, wacky and fun way.

...such as 'The Wall of Fame' (painted ‘brick effect’ notice board with a gold plaque), 'Gold Discs' (old vinyl records sprayed gold with the title of the work/award on the label), huge medals, Academy Award Ceremonies and trophies etc.

13. Have a huge pair of fluffy ear muffs…

…and put them on whenever the class gets too noisy. 

14. Set up Secret Buddies

You’ve heard of Secret Santa? Well this is a bit like it – all your students put their names in a bowl and each draws out the name of one of their classmates. This is their ‘Secret Buddy’ and it is their job to make this person happy by sending them funny jokes without revealing their identity. Obvious rules apply – no personal attacks, no racism, no toilet humour and no put downs.

15. Have a ‘Joke of the Day’ routine…

…and encourage students to bring in jokes of their own – offer spot prizes for those who read them out at the start of class.

16. Rearrange your clothing or jewellery part way through the lesson and get students to work out what has changed.

One of my lecturers used to do this and we loved it for some reason. He would go out of the room for a few seconds and then come back in having rolled up one of his sleeves, changed his tie or swapped his watch to the other wrist.

15. Have a 'crazy props' box...

...and fill it with over-sized tools, silly hats, false moustaches etc. Students can use these props for impromptu sketches, role plays and comedy routines as well as for a fun way to brighten up feedback and discussions. Get them to give answers in the style of different characters denoted by the hats or costumes they’re wearing.

16. Have regular ‘Chill-out’ sessions.

School is hard work for students – they have to sit still and listen to things they’re often not very interested in for six hours a day. They don’t have the luxury of getting up when they want to or changing their seat. And some of those seats are really hard!

Dim the lights (or change the bulb to a green one for a super-relaxing effect), provide cushions, switch on your lava lamp, light a joss stick, pipe up the whale sounds and get everyone to lie down for ten minutes of pure relaxation. Your students will LOVE you. And they’ll probably work harder for you too once they’ve woken up got their energy back.

17. Create an environment that welcomes humour.

Have a ‘Funny Quote of the Week’ board, a ‘Joke of the Week’ board or a ‘Funny photo/caption’ board and make these into a routine that your pupils will look forward to.

"Today's Crazy Photo is....", "The 'Joke of The Day' winner is..." or offer a prize for the funniest caption at the end of the week.

18. Put students in pairs and get them to practise reciting tongue twisters.

Give them a few minutes to practise and then have a ‘Twist Off’ at the front of the class – the fastest tongue gets the prize. 

19. Use the humour they like.

Watch the TV programmes and films that your students find funny so as to get on their ‘humour wavelength’. Pinch jokes, quote sketches, do impersonations or draw cartoons on your board to greet them when they enter class.

20. Teach the whole lesson on one leg.

It’s an idea that needs no further explanation and not a particularly good one at that - but I needed one more to make ‘20’. 

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