5 Fun Activities That Promote Student Engagement

Firsties are a rambunctious bunch. If you teach in the primary classroom, I'm sure you'd agree that at this age, students are full of energy, excitement, and curiosity. These are some of the things I love most about this group, but they also call for some strategic lesson planning. What I mean by this is that it's crucial to choose engaging learning activities to keep those kiddos interested! If you're finding yourself in the same boat, I have 5 fun activities that promote student engagement!

Looking to promote student engagement in your classroom this year? Use these 5 fun activities to keep your students excited about learning.

Planning Engaging Learning Activities 

Before we dive into my 5 favorite student-approved activities, let's chat about planning! In my opinion, taking the time to strategically choose lessons that align with your students' needs is key to maintaining high engagement. 

For example, if you know your students tend to get restless by mid-afternoon, you know you'll want to incorporate some activities that allow them to move around the room. Or maybe you'll choose a fun whole group game for this time. 

Planning the right lessons to keep your students interested in learning means you will promote student engagement throughout the school year.

On the other hand, if you know it takes your students a while to refocus after specials or recess, you might want to find your go-to transition activity to help them settle down. Thinking about your own specific scenarios, and how you can best support your little learners in conjunction with them, is such a game-changer! 

When we think about making our lessons fit the students, rather than the other way around, we open the door for high engagement and excitement for learning with ease. Sound like a good plan? Let's talk about 5 of my favorite activities to promote student engagement that are a WIN, time after time.

1. Hidden Words Activities

In first grade, one of the subjects we spend the most time working on is phonics. Learning phonics rules, new words, and how to put it all together in reading is a HUGE part of the curriculum. Since we spend so much of our time focusing on these skills, I created a fun way to practice with Hidden Words Activities. The idea behind these activities is that students will get plenty of practice with specific phonics topics such as digraphs, CVC words, blends, vowel teams, and more!

Hidden words activities like these are always a hit with students and are a sure-fire way to promote student engagement.

These worksheets are fun and engaging for students, so they won't even know how much they're learning. To use, students will search a picture for specific word types. For example, in this digraphs resource, students will search the picture for words with SH, CH, TH, WH, PH, and TCH. 

As they find a word, they write it down in the answer box and once it's all filled up, they get to color in the picture. We add an additional layer of fun to this activity with magnifying glasses. Students are always eager to hunt for words when they get to use their very own magnifying glasses to find them! The simple addition of this tool makes this engaging activity student-approved year after year! 

2. BINGO Games to Promote Student Engagement

If you work with young students then I don't need to tell you how effective games can be in boosting engagement. Anytime we can use games to make learning feel more like play, it's a win-win! One of my favorite ways to do this is with BINGO games. We play BINGO in my classroom often because it's super simple, easy to prep, and always a student favorite. 

BINGO games like these keep your kids excited about learning and will help you promote student engagement as your students practice key skills.

BINGO is great for practicing things that require a fair bit of repetition to master such as sight words, phonics rules, and vocabulary. Rather than pulling out the flashcards, I love to use BINGO to get extra practice with the words we're focusing on. For example, in this r-controlled vowels BINGO game, students get tons of practice reading ar, er, ir, or, and ur words.  

We all know that mastering new phonics rules takes lots of practice, and BINGO helps keep it fun! I also love how versatile BINGO is. Sometimes we play as a whole class, while other times I use it to target specific skills in my small groups. Once kiddos get the hang of it, you can even use it during centers by choosing a student to be the BINGO caller. No matter how you use it, BINGO is one of those games you'll want to keep in your back pocket for engaged learning!

3. Write the Room Activities

If you've been around here for a while, you likely already know how much I LOVE Write the Room activities. They're highly versatile, easy to prep, cover a variety of subjects, and best of all - students love this activity! 

Write the Room is my go-to activity when kiddos are restless. In my room, this often happens towards the end of the day, or if we have special events going on. For example, if students know that spring break is right around the corner, or we're getting a visit from the fire station, they have a hard time sitting still! 

Rather than fighting this, I embrace it with Write the Room. I set up the cards around the classroom, and send the students off with recording sheets and clipboards. The action of moving around in the classroom helps shake out those wiggles, while still allowing us to focus on a topic. 

Write the room activities like these will get your students up and moving as they practice new concepts and skills and will help promote student engagement.

One of my favorites is this R-Controlled Vowels Write the Room resource. In this activity, students will identify the picture then practice writing words with r-controlled vowels in a fun and engaging format. Phonics review can get a little monotonous, but when you're using Write the Room, you can count on high engagement. 

Write the Room can be used for literally any topic you can imagine. I have more than a few sets in my TpT Shop that cover everything from phonics to math to grammar, and more. No matter what you're looking to target, Write the Room can help promote student engagement!

4. Engaging Crafts 

Crafts are often dismissed in the primary classroom as "fluff" or an unnecessary addition. I understand this viewpoint, but I think when we cut them out completely we miss the opportunity for more engaged learning. Crafts have a lot of benefits including giving students opportunities to work on fine motor skills and following directions.  Pair this with an academic topic and you have an engaging activity that is packed with skills.  

With all of this in mind, in my classroom, I like to incorporate crafts with our lessons. Many of the crafts I use align with specific lessons such as this one for practicing contractions. This resource includes info posters, a sorting activity, a foldable, practice worksheets, and games. After using these activities to introduce and practice working with contractions, we finish the unit with a fun craft. 

Bring a little creativity into your lessons with fun craftivities like this which naturally help to promote student engagement.

The craft has students choose 2 words to convert into a contraction. They write a sentence using the contraction and then color in their racecar. Finally, they glue all the pieces on a large piece of construction paper. This simple craft is a fun way to have children practice using contractions in a sentence and is a great supplement to the curriculum. Not to mention, they look great displayed on a bulletin board!

My students love finishing up a new lesson with a fun craft, and I love how easy it is to keep their attention when we use them!

5. Digital Learning Activities

Last, but certainly not least, let's talk about student-approved digital activities! Students love using computers, tablets, and other devices in the classroom. They're fun and interactive, making them a no-brainer for boosting engagement. While I don't advise replacing all of your hands-on learning activities with digital ones, with the right balance, technology can be a great tool in the primary classroom.

One of the ways I like to use digital activities is as a supplement to our lesson. For example, when we're learning about map skills, I like to start out with a whole group introduction, informational booklets, and a 3D town-building activity. These hands-on learning activities are a great way to cement this topic with my firsties. After we've covered these topics, I love using Map Skills Boom Cards to practice applying what we've learned. 

Digital learning activities like these Boom Cards will keep your students excited about practicing new concepts and skills at school and at home and will definitely help promote student engagement no matter where your students are practicing.

These Boom Cards activities focus on the compass rose, cardinal directions, and reading a map key. Students love these engaging and interactive activities, so they're a great option for center time. I also have this activity in a Google Slides version, which is wonderful for a whole-group activity or review. 

Using digital activities alongside our regular lessons is such a fun way to mix things up in the classroom. The interactive format allows for continued practice of a particular topic in a fun, new way that's always a hit with students!

Mix It Up To Make Learning Fun 

The big takeaway here is that the key to making your lessons more engaging is to add some variety. Primary students aren't known for the longest attention spans, so switch things up frequently! Think outside the box, and look for activities that help your students practice familiar skills in a fun, new way! 

I hope you found something here to inspire your teaching. If you're looking for even more fun and engaging student-approved activities, be sure to check out my TPT Shop. You'll find exciting lessons to carry you through every month of the year and keep those kiddos learning! 

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There are so many different ideas to help make your lessons more engaging. Pin this post on Pinterest so you can revisit it when you need something new to help keep your students engaged and learning!

Promote student engagement in your classroom this year with these 5 fun activities your students are sure to love. Whether it's digital activities like BOOM Cards, crafts, or hidden picture puzzles, your students will be excited to practice key skills and concepts throughout the school year. #thechocolateteacher #promotingstudentengagement #keepingstudentsengaged #funactivitiesforelementarystudents

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