Teacher Strategies: How to Make Any Lesson Fun without Busting Your Budget

teacher strategies


Teachers are among the most resourceful and creative professionals. They need to be, with all of the recent budget cuts and increased mandates that have impacted their lessons and classrooms. 

But, that doesn’t mean that teachers have to sacrifice fun or spend exorbitant amounts of money to make their lessons fun. 

In fact, there are a few strategies teachers can use to make any lesson fun without busting their budget, and here are a few of my favorites: 

Give Students a Choice

No matter the concept or skill you are teaching, kids will have more fun when you incorporate some sort of choice into the activity or lesson. When students have a choice and a voice, they have more fun learning and naturally are more motivated and engaged. Perhaps you allow them to choose their partners for the day, the class assignment to complete that night, or even the next text they will read.

Students enjoy taking ownership of their learning, and even your more reluctant learners will enjoy your class more when you involve them in making choices and decisions about their learning. 

One strategy for making any lesson fun without busting your budget is to ask students to brainstorm a list of things they want to know about or are interested in at the beginning of the year, at the beginning of a new unit of study, or at the beginning of a new book. Keep the list in a visible location in the classroom and give students time to inquire about and investigate the items on the list throughout the school year. teacher strategies

Incorporate Movement

Think about the last meeting or training you attended. After a certain amount of time, were you fidgeting or restless? It’s difficult for adults to sit still for extended periods of time, and it’s nearly impossible for elementary and middle school students (and sometimes even high school students) to sit still, too. 

The more active a student is, the more active his brain is, especially when you incorporate movement in the right ways in the classroom. teacher strategies

Not sure where to start? Consider using Classroom Charades as an alternative to students raising their hands and verbally answering questions. Or, have all students remain seated while you ask a question and then stand up when they know the answer instead of raising their hands. teacher strategies

There are countless ways to incorporate movement into your lessons to make them more fun without busting your budget, and you’ll more than likely figure out how to incorporate movement at various times throughout the day without too much thought once you get started – better yet, nearly every way to incorporate movement into your lessons is free. 

Use Think-Pair-Share More Often

It’s difficult for some teachers to give kids time to work and share with their classmates because they worry that principals and supervisors will observe the students talking and assume they are not learning. teacher strategies

In reality, think-pair-share is a teaching strategy that promotes class participation and deepens student understanding of concepts and topics. And, students will have more fun learning when they are given the opportunity to think on their own, work in pairs to solve a problem or draw a conclusion, and share their ideas with the class. teacher strategies

They’ll think they’re just talking, when they really are learning through explaining and sharing with a partner. Again, this is one way to make any lesson fun without busting your budget. 

Bring On the Drama

Incorporating drama or play acting into a lesson has many benefits for students. It helps them retain information better, connect what they’re learning to their own lives, develop problem-solving skills, improve communication, and more. And, of course, best of all, it makes lessons fun for students and teachers.

When students are being asked to act out what they’re learning, no lesson will ever be exactly the same so it keeps things fresh for teachers who might be teaching the same lesson during different periods throughout the day. 

So, for example, if you’re doing a U.S. History lesson you might have a few costume pieces on hand so that students can act out what they’ve learned about individual historical figures or they might act out how a series of events played out in history. 

Party supply stores, consignment shops, and your very own closet are great places to get inexpensive clothing items and accessories to use for dress up during lessons. 

Incorporating Games

Who doesn’t love to play games? Incorporating educational games into your lessons will automatically make them more fun for your students and for you. And, playing games makes your instruction more powerful. As students learn through play, they are more engaged in the lesson, and develop more connections with the content to cement it in their long-term memory. 

You’re probably familiar with using games such as Bingo and Jeopardy in your classroom, but there are other games you can play with your students that are perhaps even more fun and that won’t bust your budget if you don’t have the technology or resources available to play Jeopardy. You may use word sorts or matching games for vocabulary or problems, play Pictionary for concepts or vocabulary, or assign older students to create their own games for your current unit of study. 

With a little thought and creativity, it is possible for you to make any lesson fun without busting your budget. Involving your students in the lessons and moving toward a more student-centered classroom is one of the best ways to do so. 

Photo Acknowledgements

  • Three Students Collaborating: Eagle Ridge School, Silvis, Illinois 
  • Options Collage: Pixabay Image by Geralt

About the Author

Susan Lee taught elementary school for 30 years. Today, she works with OutsideScholarships.org to help college-bound students cover the ever-increasing cost of attending college. 

She finds it extremely rewarding being able to connect students in need with the scholarships that help make achieving their dreams possible. In her spare time, she loves spending time in nature and serving as foster mom to dog and cat rescues.

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