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11 Motivational Activities for Students to Learn Better | A Teacher’s Guide

11 Motivational Activities for Students to Learn Better

Getting students to participate in class is a tricky process because most of them lack intrinsic motivation. Teachers and parents can help students develop the motivation they lack by keeping the classroom environment open and welcoming. 

If you are a teacher and want your students to participate in class fully, then you need to actively work towards motivating them. Teaching is a hard task, and in order to make the most out of it, some extra work is required. 

Even if you try your best to explain everything in detail, there’s still a chance some of your students will feel demotivated. Constant motivation is what pushes them to learn and work better in class while being fully involved. 

Let’s explore some strategies that you can adopt to motivate your students.

1. Energizing Brain Breaks

Taking breaks during study time is super important. It helps students remember stuff better. According to research, taking breaks while working improves concentration and motivation in people. So, students should relax their minds while working for longer time periods.

These breaks are great for moving around. Especially if students find it hard to focus. They can stretch, do some yoga or dance. This improves the blood flow in the body, especially the brain and energizes them to perform well.

Some students prefer something artsy. They can doodle or color for a few minutes. Just relax a bit before going back to work without starting something exhausting.

Make sure to use a timer for their break. This helps them know when to get back to work without any fuss. Setting the timer shows them that the break is only for a short time. Then, it's time to work again and learn. Remember that these breaks should not be long for students to become lazy.

2. Do a Personal Project 

Letting the students spare some time for a personal project also enhances their motivation. In homeschooling it is a way better technique when you see the student lacking motivation and being lethargic. You can ask them to take some time off and do a side project they’re passionate about. 

At the start of every term, ask students about their passions and hobbies and motivate them to pursue it. For instance if someone wants to learn French or take a coding course. Help them to do it as a side project.

One way to help them further their motivation is to give them incentives. Assign a time slot for them to complete their pending tasks and personal projects. After that time, they should be back in the learning process. 

If someone wants to learn how to say I ate an apple in French, then they can only do it after they have completed their English assignment.

3. Task Chunking for Efficiency

For many primary school students (and adults too), motivation often comes from having a checklist of tasks to complete. There's something immensely satisfying about ticking off each item as it's done. That’s why most people buy planners and to-do lists to complete their daily tasks. 

If you notice your students’ motivation going a bit down lately, perhaps due to a lack of accomplishment, try this approach. Instead of handing them a daunting assignment and dull projects, give them small and manageable tasks that they can easily complete.

For kids, it’s a good idea to make simple worksheets and add a checklist to them. Let them tick off an item if they’ve written their name, completed half questions, structured it properly, etc. This activity will motivate them to finish their assignments quickly.

4. Make Sure They Get It

Most of the time we get stuck on something and ask ourselves this question before we have to start a task “Where do we even start?” Well, students feel the same way. No matter how many times you explain a concept to them, it doesn't necessarily mean that they understand it.

So, before letting students work on their own, it's better to make sure if they really get what they're supposed to do. Many students are hesitant to ask questions and waste time if they don’t understand certain concepts. To keep them involved in the discussion and increase their motivation, teachers have to take steps.

You can do this by asking them to tell you what they need to do in their own words. If they are hesitant, you can give them sticky notes and ask them to write down any questions they still have. The important thing is to make sure they truly understand before they start working independently. That way, they won't get stuck later on!

5. Experiential Learning 

While you are dealing with an inattentive student it’s better to bring out the big guns. Students who lack motivation are uninterested in everything. To make the learning process suitable for them try to incorporate experiential learning in your classroom.

Through experiences and practical experiments students learn better. It sharpens the visual memory of the brain and helps students in better understanding and memorization of something. 

Field trips are a great way to motivate students. Going on historical tours and lab trips and conducting experiments will help your students remain motivated in class and look forward to the lessons. Here are some ways to integrate experiential learning into your classes:

  • Visit historical sites, museums, or nature preserves to get an up-close look at concepts.
  • Performing lab experiments to see how scientific ideas are applied.
  • Acting out scenarios that explain literary concepts, historical events, or social interactions.
  • Learning about nature and environmental science through outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and scouting.
  • Producing artwork or crafts to fine motor skills, express sentiments, and discover creativity.
  • Working together with classmates to find solutions to practical issues, such as developing plans for sustainable development or meeting the needs of the community.

These activities help students sharpen their skills and increase interest in lessons.

Further Reading: List of Teaching Methods and Strategies

6. Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a fun way for students to learn by doing cool projects. Teachers give them tasks in groups with a deadline to follow. Here's how it works:

Instead of just listening to a teacher talk, students work on projects that let them explore and solve actual problems. For example, they might create a model of a city, make a video about a historical event, or design an experiment to test something in science.

PBL gets students excited because they find these activities interesting. They have to figure things out on their own, ask questions, and work together with classmates. It feels like an adventure where they take charge of their own learning.

Plus, PBL helps students remember what they've learned because they're actually using it to create something. And when they see their project come to life, it adds to their excitement. So, with Project-Based Learning, students have fun, learn a lot, and feel proud of what they accomplish.

7. Participation in Ethical/Moral Discussions

Engaging in discussions about what's right and wrong can really motivate students.

Firstly, these talks get students thinking and talking about important stuff. They have to consider different sides of a problem and come up with solutions, which makes them curious and interested in learning more.

Secondly, these discussions help students understand others better. They learn about different beliefs and how actions affect people. This makes them kinder and more understanding.

Lastly, when students see they can make a difference by talking about important topics, they feel powerful. They feel like they matter and can do good things. This makes them want to keep talking and finding solutions to problems.

So, by talking about ethics and morals, students get excited to think, understand others, and make a positive impact.

Read More: Types of Assessment

8. Affinity Mapping

Affinity mapping means using diagrams or notes to organize information in such a way that helps you understand it better. 

Students often use sticky notes to write down important concepts or make affinity diagrams and then group together linked information. This process aids in memorization and improved comprehension. 

However, affinity mapping is an activity that you can perform in class. Drop a broad concept or a topic of discussion in class and ask everyone to share their thoughts and opinions on it. After everyone’s done, the students can group similar opinions and ideas. Then they can discuss how those ideas were related to each other through categories and the ways they can implement them.

This activity engages students in the discussion and develops high-order thinking skills. Students might want to come to school/ college for exploratory purposes and to sharpen their data analysis abilities. 

9. Map Ideas Together

Concept mapping is when a number of students work together to organize ideas and find connections between them. It's like making a big picture of what you're learning. This helps them see things from different angles, not just their own.

This is an interactive classroom activity that ensures student engagement and participation and develops cordial relationships among them. Students can use this method to review what they've learned or to plan projects and assignments. In class, they might cover the walls with sticky notes and big pieces of paper to do this. 

Activities like these have shown a positive impact on students’ learning abilities. Tutors at MTS are certified and experienced in their respective subjects. Beyond the classroom, they make sure that the students interact and engage with them to have thoughtful discussions. 

10. Have Snowball Discussions

In this activity, small groups of two to four students each choose a case study or worksheet to talk about together. Then, they share their ideas with the larger group.

After five minutes of discussion, each group joins with another group to form a bigger group of eight. They discuss for another five minutes, and then they join with another group, and so on until the whole class is together again.

This activity helps students understand how group dynamics work and how different ideas can come together to find the best solution.

11. Goal Setting Strategies

Goal-setting activities in classrooms are super helpful for students and teachers. It helps students learn important skills like knowing themselves better, managing time well, and not giving up when things get tough. 

Setting goals helps students determine what they want to achieve, how to get there, and how to track their progress. This makes them more excited about learning and more focused in class.

Teachers can incorporate these activities into their lessons. To do so, they can start by explaining what setting goals means and why it's important. They can give examples and help students set goals that make sense for them. Then, during class, teachers can have activities where students write down their goals and discuss them. 

You can also set lesson-based goals. For example, set a time frame for completing your lesson or task. Setting goals helps students track their progress and actively work towards achieving them, which reduces inattentiveness and laziness during classes.

Final Words

In education, motivation is the fuel that keeps students going. It drives them to explore, learn and excel. Teachers are responsible for igniting this flame and ensuring they remain enthusiastic and eager to learn.

We have discussed various strategies that can help students be motivated in class. From energizing brain breaks to collaborative fun activities, explore what works best for your students.

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With over 3 years of experience in teaching, Chloe is very deeply connected with the topics that talk about the educational and general aspects of a student's life. Her writing has been very helpful for students to gain a better understanding of their academics and personal well-being. I’m also open to any suggestions that you might have! Please reach out to me at chloedaniel402 [at]